Piscataway - The room was electric. The boss was back and although it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen, a similar effect took place. Greg Schiano had officially returned home to Rutgers and to say he won the his introductory press conference would be an understatement. His enthusiasm was contagious and he exuded confidence in explaining how he planned to attack the many challenges that lay ahead. One topic within his remarks stuck out to me more than any others.
If you’ve watched the press conference live or video of it, at one point Schiano sounded like he was giving a pregame speech to his players, not a room full of media, donors, Rutgers administrators and even the Governor of New Jersey, as well as fans watching on TV or online. His voice raised, his passion emanated and his message was clear: everyone who supports Rutgers football needs to be all in and come together to push the program forward.
Whatever that means for you, whether it’s donating money, attending games, being a vocal supporter at work or in the community, as well as reading this website on a regular basis (joke), Schiano is asking that you do it.
The African proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes a fan base and community to help rebuild a football program, one that certainly is up against a variety of challenges on the road ahead to respectability. That was Schiano’s point and it was quite the rallying cry. If you didn’t want to suit up right there or run through a brick wall, well, I don’t know what to tell you other than to check your pulse.
After Schiano’s initial remarks, he broke into his speech directed at the fans and the entire state. Here is what he said in its entirety:
“Now, I want to talk now. I don’t want to have a press conference. I want to talk to everyone in our great State of New Jersey.”
“What just transpired was an incredible effort by our university. You can’t say any more that Rutgers is not all in. Rutgers is all-in. Now it’s our turn. Starts with me, our players. Our fans. Our boosters. Everybody’s got to go all in, because here is the problem, we entered the Big Ten Conference a few years ago and the teams that we’re looking up at right now, they are not waiting for Rutgers: Hey, come on guys, catch it, not even happening. They are moving.”
“I used to say we are chasing a moving target. Now I’m going to say it this way: We got to pass a moving target, and those are big targets, and it’s going to take every single person, everyone.”
“So yeah if you got a lot of money, we need your money, make no mistake about it. But if you don’t have a lot of money, we need you on the scarlet walk, we need that packed. We need you in that stadium. We need that stadium packed because those kids lay it on the line, and we don’t need it -- with all due respect, we don’t need it when we’re seventh in the country, fifth in the country, first in the country. We need it right now. Not the beginning of the season. We need it right now.”
“When you’re around the water cooler, you’re around the coffee machine at work, we need you promoting Rutgers Football. Those block arm magnets, they have to be on your car. We have to create the importance, every single one of us. That has to happen.”
“Again, we’re chasing some big dudes. No, we’re passing, that’s what we’ve got to do. We ain’t chasing. We’re passing and that’s got to happen, and it’s going to take every single one of us to do it. But the real beauty of this thing, people in New Jersey know how to work. They are not afraid of work. Not afraid to get after it. But we collectively showed what can happen. That’s got to be our leaping-off point. We can’t do this because it’s just starting. Here we go.”
“It’s really important now that we all come together. Collectively, here on campus; collectively in the State of New Jersey. New Jersey has always been a place, and I said this 19 years ago, it’s always been a place, north Jersey, south Jersey. You know what, we really had it cranking here. There was no division. There was no division in high school football and there was no division on what there was. New Jersey, look, they have got the Giants and the Jets, you’ve got the Eagles, right -- I get it.”
“You have two major cities that border our state. There’s one thing that’s all about just us, and that’s Rutgers, and it’s Rutgers University, Rutgers athletics and Rutgers Football.”
“So we have a great opportunity to join everybody together, and that’s what we need to do.”
It’s almost nine months to the day until the first game of the 2020 season, but if Rutgers fans and residents across the state can continue to provide the type of support for Schiano and the football program that has been on full display in the last week in a half, he will have already earned the first victory of his second tenure as head coach.