When You Think Collegiate Athletic Tradition, You Think Of Rutgers

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (really rolls off the tongue, right?) is playing perhaps the most meaningful game in their history tonight. Of course, you may not know it(or believe it) but Rutgers played in the first ever college football game, way back on November 6, 1869.

At that inaugural game, in fact, according to Wikipedia (so it must be true):

“’Football’ at the time was a name given to variety of games, and the rules of the game played by Rutgers in 1869 resembled soccer much more than modern American football. Scores were computed in runs (roughly equivalent to goals). Instead of wearing uniforms, the players stripped off their hats, coats, and vests and bound their suspenders around the waistbands of their trousers. For headgear, the Rutgers team wound their scarlet scarves into turbans atop their heads.”

Bound their suspenders around the waistbands of their trousers? Wouldn’t those then be called…. belts? And scarlet turbans? Not very patriotic, Rutgers.

Another interesting tidbit about the school of firsts that is Rutgers University: The first intercollegiate Ultimate Frisbee contest was also held at Rutgers on November 6, 1972, cleverly 103 years to the day after the first college football game.

You may scoff at Ultimate Frisbee being a sport, but don’t you think people scoffed at football 137 years ago? Won’t you feel silly on November 9, 2109 when College Frisbee Gameday is broadcasting live from Rutgers’ campus as the undefeated Rutgers Frisbee Team takes on the 8-0 Louisville Frisbee Team and we’re having all sorts of arguments about whether a Frisbee team like Rutgers – that was unranked in the preseason – should be able vault all those teams ahead of them and get a shot at the National Frisbee Title?

“Dammit, we need an Ultimate Frisbee Playoff,” you’ll rant, “and not the joke that is this ridiculous Frisbee Championship Series!” (The shortened version of the Frisbee Championship Series is FCS, which sounds like “feces.” Poop is always funny.)

Anyway, Rutgers plays Louisville tonight in a battle of Big East 8-0 teams. Honestly, I think their best chance is to use their mind powers to make the other team inexplicably levitate like they did against Illinois. (You didn’t hear about that because it was early in the season and nobody knew Rutgers was good yet. Don’t think other teams won’t be copying this levitation theory.)

I do think it’s kind of cute how Rutgers fans are reveling in this – and they should, considering they haven’t been good in about thirty years. However, when Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech fled the Big East for the ACC, this sort of opened the door for some new teams to be good in the Big East. I would guess that is Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin were to leave the Big Ten, Purdue and Iowa would also have newfound success. (Wait, who am I kidding? Purdue would lose to Bowling Green or something.) Never mind, I’m just bitter.

So what are the most likely things to be spotted at a college football game with such implications being played in New Jersey? Here’s five such things:

  1. Light-blue Chevy Camaros or Mustang “5.0”s with Bon Jovi or Bruce Springstein playing loudly.
  2. Tony Soprano on the sidelines. (To be fair, he was doing commercials encouraging people to go to Rutgers games a few years ago.)
  3. Three guys with tire irons and questionable looking backgrounds plotting to bodily injure anybody from the University of Miami who looks like they might be considering plucking Rutgers coach Greg Schiano from New Brunswick and asking him to replace Larry Coker.
  4. People wearing brand-new, fresh off the assembly line Rutgers apparel. (Why this can’t apply the team themselves and they’re forced to continue wearing their head-to-toe screaming scarlet uniforms is anyone’s guess. They do, however, have the white pants option so let’s hope they go with that.)
  5. In-your-face fans. Combine losing forever and having nobody respect you with prideful New Jerseans and East coast fandom and you have a bit of a volitile combo. This might scare those from Kentucky (Louisville is in Kentucky – try to keep up).

Regardless of what happens, expect the ESPN crew to bring up the following things over and over again to the point of irritation, since nobody at that network does much research:

  • What a great job Greg Schiano has done. Again, overlooking the fact that the Big East lost its three best teams somewhat recently.
  • What a great guy Brian Leonard is for not complaining when Raymell Rice took his job. Oh, you mean the guy who used to be the starting RB when the team was awful was replaced by a better RB and the team is now sniffing at the national title? Yeah, I don’t know if this is being a good guy so much as just not being a complete moron.
  • How Mike Teel was so amazingly good in high school in New Jersey and how Schiano convinced him to stay in-state.
  • They’ll for certain show the Empire State Building in NYC because it is being lit with Scarlet Knight Red in honor of the showdown. Not sure if anyone stopped to think about the fact that Louisville has virtually the same colors. Oh well.

Let's all root for Rutgers to run the table, end up 12-0, and still only be ranked like 6th in the BCS. Then we get to hear more explanations about why there still is no playoff system in place.

Dance Party USA

Crazy like a fiend