Scarlet Faces

September 28, 2008

If the Rutgers University alumni in your neighborhood seem to be standing a little taller and walking with a bit more swagger than usual this weekend, it’s probably because the university’s big-time football team has scored a big-time honor: coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Mike Teel are sharing the “Goofball of the Week” laurels, bestowed by Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News. Let him paint you a word picture:

Schiano is at least half a goofball for spurning Michigan to stay in New Jersey, where the Scarlet Knights are 0-3 and falling apart. Teel gets a well-earned share because he threw a late interception, then threw a punch at a teammate after Rutgers’ 23-21 loss to Navy. Schiano declined to suspend Teel for the incident. Rutgers’ opponents probably appreciate that.

As an alumnus reading this news, I felt the impulse to celebrate by peeling off a few Benjamins and flushing them down the toilet, just to keep in the spirit of the whole big-time football thing at my alma mater. Then good sense kicked in. When I’m in the presence of experts, my instinct is to step back and let them show everybody how it’s done, and when it comes to squandering cash, these guys have attained a state of Zen-like perfection. And to think that they do it while wearing uniforms with misspelled names? All I can say is: Keep chopping!  (Bird-dogged by Rutgers 1000.)

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Let Them Eat Pigskin

July 21, 2008

As I’ve said before, I preferred the days when the big-time Rutgers University football program was providing fodder for jokes on The Sopranos. It’s not that I have a special animus against football, but because the Scarlet Knights managed to become slightly less of an embarrassment after decades of floundering, too many people are ready to overlook the Enron-level accounting and origami-style logical twists needed to make this pigskin-lined money sink look like a real asset to the university and the state.

This Star-Ledger cartoon puts it nicely, but if you need some more information, check out the Rutgers 1000 site, which highlights the steadily mounting expense of the planned expansion of the Robert E. Mulcahy Ego Emporium and Fiscal Fiasco Forum Rutgers Football Stadium in Piscataway. In the past I’ve thought that the image of the Big Time Football Program should not be a knight but Mister Magoo, all nearsightedness and blissful ignorance as he staggers down George Street in his racoon-skin coat.

Nowadays, I’m more inclined to think the program’s mascot should be Count Dracula, dribbling red ink as he sucks away more and more resources from a university that needs to remember its responsibilities as an educational institution, not a welfare program for gridiron groupies.