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Importance of establishing a home field advantage for Rutgers football

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 30 UMass at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fans in the stands at a college football game go together like peanut butter and jelly (Skippy Crunchy peanut butter, only, seriously), peas and carrots (Forrest Gump style), meatloaf and mash potatoes (not just anyone’s, Mom’s), a Harley Davidson motorcycle and obnoxiously loud exhaust pipes (Vance & Hines, keeping it real), ice cream on a cone (Polar Cub large chocolate and vanilla swirl, dipped in hot chocolate coat) and friends, family, beers, burgers and sausage, onions and peppers (has to be from Randazzo’s bakery, Raritan NJ) at my RU tailgate (come find me in the Blue Lot, first couple of rows).

Let’s face it, I can drop tons of stats on you like in 2019, during the last non Covid impacted season, the home teams won 67% of the games. In 2020, during Covid pandemic, the home teams won 59% of the games (that is an ~8% drop). There are many reasons for the drop, as there were less games played, many conferences played conference only schedules (less tomato cans on the schedule), players and coaches had to sit out games due to Covid protocols, players opted out, and more. The single greatest impact on the games was limited or no fans in the stands. PERIOD!

Let’s go a step further. Fans can turn the average home team player from Clark Kent into Superman, on any given Saturday while having the inverse effect on a star opposing player by being their metaphorical “Kryptonite.” Fans chant for their teams, they create loud deafening noise, they hang on every play, and they know their role is to disrupt the opposing team. They come into every game with the thought of the possible, “A seismic upset” of a better team or the “We will rock you” because we can, belief. They dress in their team colors, they read OTB all week long to get hyped up for the game or to hear the coaches game day strategy, they have RU logos, or some even pimped out RU rides, they tailgate for hours with friends and family that came with them, newly met RU fans, and even good debates with opposing fans (while sharing libations). They walk down the “Scarlet Walk” to the stadium, find their seats, stand and sing for the national anthem (yes, they really do), and they cheer their teams running out of the tunnel.

The players practice all summer, take classes, weight train, study plays, build chemistry with their coach and other players, and most of all dream of winning each and every Saturday. 95% of these players will never see a pro field unless they buy a ticket. Yet, they play this game out of passion for the sport, hopes of getting a chance to play in the pros, represent their parents and their towns, and to invoke the passion of the university students, alumni, and fans. Regardless of who they are playing when they step on the field, they are planning to win.

The players can feel the electricity generated by the fans before they even run out of the Fog induced tunnel. They channel their inner Superman to unlock their superpower, they may also not have truly believed they had or to what level, for the next 60 minutes of play. They go out there feeding on the energy of the crowd and know that if they make a play the crowd will come alive and help them disrupt the opposing team. As in the movie Gladiator, “Win the Crowd and they will love you.” It is a symbiotic relationship where the Players and Fans depend on each other to drive the desired outcomes.

The fans come in all shapes and sizes, small and tall, extroverted and introverted, moms, dads, grandparents, children, friends, new acquaintances and more. No matter who you are, you feel the energy, you know your role and how to help the team. You may say “I’m not the kind of person who’s going to stand up and scream RRRRRRR, UUUUUUUU, RRRRRRR, UUUUUU,” but once a play happens you feel the energy of the players and the other fans, you cannot help, but stand up and join in.

Last year Rutgers had a perfect home record 0-5 (the wrong side of perfection, All-be-it, but remember they were in every game). The RU average margin of loss was 8.33 points, at home. If you take out PSU and IU, the average margin of loss was 5.33. It is hard to argue that an electric home crowd of 54k fans cheering on the home team, as proverbial 12th man, is not worth a potential 7 points for RU and/or -7 points for the other team. Here is another fun fact, the betting lines typically allocate 3 points to the home team (obviously a lesser quality team could get 3 points and still not be favored to win). During 2020 the betting lines were dropped by, roughly, one point to 2 points for the home teams. Why? Home teams were playing in empty stadiums, devoid of fan noise, passion, and disruptive chaos. Fans are an undeniable factor.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? 2020 season is in the rearview mirror! Players need Fans in the Stands to help unlock their inner superpower!

Rutgers needs fans in the stands like peanut butter and jelly (Skippy Crunchy peanut butter), peas and carrots (Forrest Gump style), meatloaf and mash potatoes (not just anyone’s, Mom’s), Harley Davidson’s and obnoxiously loud pipes (Vance & Hines), ice cream on a cone (Polar Cub large chocolate and vanilla swirl, dipped in hot chocolate coat) and beers, burgers, sausage, onions and peppers (has to be Randazzo’s bakery) at an RU tailgate (come find me in the Blue Lot, first couple of rows).

“WIN THE CROWD AND THEY WILL LOVE YOU!”

Unleash the dogs and feel free to provide your thoughts.....

(It is important to note that, Rutgers is still on track to return to full capacity against Temple on 9/2.)

Training camp is here and the Scarlet Knights are ‘jacked up’ - On the Banks