Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Hours (I Mean 72 Hours) Later....RU Wins Bowl Game, "AD" Leaves For The NFL, The Big Dig Out, and Other Stuff

Rutgers celebrates its 45-24 victory in the ST. PETERSBURG BOWL (Star-Ledger Photo)

First my apologies for being away so long....you might have heard about a "slight issue" with the weather in the Northeast- a blizzard hit and dumped two feet of snow in much of the area, though we got about ten inches here, most of which fell Saturday into early Sunday. A good portion of Sunday involved digging out and waiting to be dug out, and Monday and Tuesday was dedicated to catching up with Christmas shopping that had to be scuttled because of the storm.

But I'm done....FINALLY. And some semblance of normalcy is returning to life.,,,and it feels good!

So, without further ado, lets talk about "some stuff".

(1). Five consecutive bowl games, four consecutive wins. Rutgers pounded Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24. The win gave Rutgers a 9-4 record for the 2009 season, its best win total since going 11-2 in 2006. This was the the fifth consecutive winning season for Rutgers- you have to go back to the 1991-92 seasons for the last time they even had back to back winning seasons.

You can talk about some of the disappointments of the year if you wish, but I won't. Naysayers first said "when Ray Rice leaves they'll start losing again". Ray left, and RU went to another bowl game. The same cynics then said "when Mike Teel and Kenny Britt leave, RU will collapse". Mike and Kenny moved on to the NFL, and Rutgers won one more game than last year.

It was the young freshmen who shined brightest this year....not to take away from great old grizzled veterans like Ryan D’Imperio, Devin McCourty, and Tim Brown. But it was the emergence of new stars Tom Savage, Mohamed Sanu, and Steve Beauharnais that gave promise to the beginning of a new era where the success can continue. Head Coach Greg Schiano has said that you have to be consistent before you can be great. The Scarlet Knights seemed poised to take that next step- the building blocks and keys to success are there.

When Schiano came to Rutgers he had to build a program from the ground up. His way is a amalgamation of a little bit Joe Paterno, with heavy emphasis on academics, graduating his players, and getting the "right kind of players"- in Paterno-speak its called "we don't want any bigshots". An RU player has to love football, and he has to dedicate himself to the academic demands of the institution. Often Schiano asks the team leaders if a potential recruit is an "RU recruit". So far, Greg Schiano has delivered on all promises save one- a Big East Championship.

Another coach Schiano borrowed from was Howard Schnellenberger. When he took over as the head coach of the University of Miami in 1979, Schnellenberger declared South Florida to be "The State of Miami", and used that as his recruiting base. The beginning of "The U's" dynasty began with that philosophy, and Schiano incorporated it into his "State of Rutgers" campaign- it extends to all of New Jersey and to a three hour driving radius from New Jersey's borders. True, Schiano does recruit Florida and other some other states as well- but its about New Jersey first. Six or seven years ago you couldn't find Rutgers fans anywhere. Its nearly 2010, and walk around any parking lot in Central New Jersey and try to count the scarlet block 's on the cars, or the jerseys, tee-shirts, and and caps on the people walking around.

So far....a job well done.

(2) Speaking of Schiano the disciplinarian...sometimes he'll let a thing or two slide. As the game was winding down of Saturday night, check Coach's reaction to linebacker senior Damaso Munoz's fielding of an on side kick, and taking it back for a touchdown. Munoz, who was razzed by his fellow linebackers for never having scored a touchdown finally did on what would be his last touch of the ball in his college career- he did a frontwards flip into the end zone and then spiked the ball. It resulted in a TD, but with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well.
In this video, Coach Schiano seems like he's trying not to laugh.

(3) Saying goodbye to "AD". In the worst football secret since Brian Kelly's latest coaching destination, Rutgers junior All-America lineman Anthony Davis has decided to forgo his senior season to enter the 2010 NFL draft. Davis is projected to be a first round pick. He follows Ray Rice and Kenny Britt, who also left early following the two previous seasons.

Thanks AD....and good luck.

(4) The Giants and Redskins. Was it possible for the Giants to play a better game, or the Redskins to play worse, in that 45-12 blowout on Monday Night football? I'll say it right now- the first 15 minutes of the game might have been the best opening quarter for a team that I have ever seen for any team at any level. The Giants opening drive lasted 9:13, was 16 plays , covered 80 yards, and resulted in a Giants touchdown. The ensuing possession for Washington was a three and out. Then the Giants got the ball back at the 4:21 mark in the first quarter the Giants got the ball back and went on a 5:00 minute, 67 yard, 11 play touchdown drive that lasted into the second quarter. This was the equal of a first round TKO. The Skins showed a little fight in the second half, scoring twice....but the Giants D came alive. and kept them contained, while the Giants offense scored at will. Eli Manning might be playing the best quarterback of his career.

As a Giant fan....a tremendous game, and kudos to Big Blue.

(5) And finally....goodbye Melky Cabrera , and welcome back to New York Javier Vasquez. I followed Melky from his days with the Trenton Thunder, and I hate to see him leave. But when the Braves were willing to deal Vasquez back to New York it was a move you have to make. Vasquez will be a solid number four starter for the Yankees, while the Braves essentially receive Melky, who was usually the number nine hitter in the Yankee lineup. Cabrera still has a world of potential....maybe a change of leagues will help him take the next step.

That's all folks....I'll be back with some "pre-Christmas stuff" ina day or so.

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