“Big-time Disgrace”

June 30, 2008

“While Rutgers might have trouble this winter finding the money to heat its dorms and classrooms, it continues to pour millions into its football and basketball facilities. There’s no better way for the taxpayer-funded state school to impress out-of-state recruits, many of whom, if not for football or basketball, would be far too academically deficient to be accepted to Rutgers….Sick, ain’t it?

That’s a snippet from today’s Phil Mushnick column in the New York Post, a scathing attack on Rutgers and its push into big-time sports.

Read Mushnick, he hits this nail directly on the head.

If Mushnick gets you angry, find plenty of laughs in this booster thread attacking Mushnick. The words posted by hardcore RU fans in defense of the program usually prove the opposite — but at least they are (unintentionally) funny.


Rutgers pegged for 7th in the Big East

June 28, 2008

The Sporting News has released its forecast for Big East football and, in an eight team league, Rutgers is tabbed to finish 7th. That’s ahead only of hapless Syracuse.

Before booing, remember that in 2007 Rutgers finished tied with Louisville and Pitt for 5th — ahead only of hapless Syracuse.

Remember, too, that Rutgers lost Ray Rice to the NFL, its offensive line is decimated by graduation, the defense was porous last year and there’s no reason to think it has gotten better. Call this edition of the Scarlet Knight just more mediocrity and that seems right on.

And yet Mulcahy III and Slick McCormick continue the money gusher into football — to what end? Latter day fans will flee a losing edition of the Scarlet Knights like cockroaches escaping Raid and, by season’s end, our bet (Preston Pennypacker‘s Panglossian prediction aside) is that Rutgers will be lucky to limp to a 7-5 result, even with the shameless stacking of creampuffs onto the schedule.

We expect the Rutgers losses to start against Fresno State and we anticipate that every tough opponent will throttle Schiano’s Schoolboys. By season’s end we expect Rutgers Stadium to be as empty as a cemetery at midnight in a blizzard — and watch that diminished enthusiasm crush ticket sales for the 2009 campaign. New Jersey fans have no affection for losers and they will show it by not showing up.

Will Slick McCormick then confess that the foray into high-priced football was a disaster — just as his father Richard McCormick the elder suggested to the New York Times a decade ago.

Is Greg Schiano “batsh*t insane?”

June 28, 2008

A poster to to the Scout message board says Schiano definitely is insane — because the Rutgers football coach apparently tells potential recruits that he has some kind of pipeline to God.  As a recent recruit was reported to say: “it was all about Coach Schiano. When he started talking about how his visions for his program come from God that really set him apart…and I knew I wanted to be there with him as my leader.”

There is no doubt that Schiano is a self-professed “born-again” Christian.  Last May he appeared at a born-again concert and, he suggested, that when his play-calling produces wins, God’s hand is on the rudder.

Some anti-Schiano posters, meantime, say his religiosity is all bunkum, just another con used to hook unsophisticated high schoolers into joining the second-rate Rutgers program.

Rabid Rivals boosters take a different position which boils down to a pragmatic, who cares, just give us the commits.

All this raises profound questions.

* Does coach Schiano profess that he talks to God?

* If he says that, is this appropriate for an employee of Rutgers, the State University?

* If he says that, is it grounds for a psychiatric examination?

* If he says that and is insincere,  what does that say about the Rutgers program?

Where the Buck Stopped

June 28, 2008

As a gusher of cash cascades into Rutgers football, the university is funding academics at lower and lower rates — thus the school’s plummet into the nether reaches of US News & World Reports’ ranking of public universities (Rutgers is 20 among publics and falling).

Money still talks — and at Rutgers its absence (save for football, where there is a reckless $100+ million stadium expansion plan and the coach with a lifetime losing record now is the state of New Jersey’s highest paid public worker) is why the university’s academics are increasingly silent.

Here is how grave the situation is — and why we are there in the first place: “Our education system has already been impacted by budget difficulties. Over three years, New Jersey’s colleges and universities have lost $266 million in funding. The proposed 2009 budget provides Rutgers with less than we received 11 years ago. During that same time, the state budget doubled and Rutgers’ enrollment grew by 4,000 students,” writes Michael Palis, interim dean of the Rutgers-Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed.

In the 2009 New Jersey budget, Rutgers is slated to lose another $38 million in funding — and that will translate into yet more deferred maintenance, more teacher layoffs, more classes canceled.

All of this is why Rutgers now ranks #117 in the new index of universities issued by the Center for College Affordability & Productivity. Rutgers simply has become a very bad buy — roughly comparable to the University of Dayton. The once proud public ivy has become a weed.

The message for New Jersey’s high school seniors, the Class of 2009, is stark: Plan to go out of state for a quality higher education. You just won’t find it in New Jersey.

Failing Grades

June 26, 2008

Memo to high schoolers who are committing to come to play football at Rutgers: know that you can do better. Rutgers’ academic decline has been well-documented — the school now is on a par with Texas A &M as the once public ivy has become a weed. But even worse for prospective footballers is how thoroughly Rutgers has failed its players:

* Do more Rutgers football players go onto the NFL…or into jail?

* Do more Rutgers football players graduate…or leave school without a degree?

* Did you know that — amidst the ebullience over high schoolers who commit to play at Rutgers — one in ten will never make it onto the team because of an inability to meet the minimal academic “standards” set out by the NCAA?

Probably the real shocker — amidst Mulcahy III’s crowing about Rutgers’ APR (Academic Progress Rate) — is that only 46% of RU footballers wind up with a degree in six years, the poorest performance among Big East schools. The rest of the student athletes at Rutgers have a 75 percent graduation rate. All RU students have a 72 percent graduation rate. Something is very rotten when — with tutors, gut courses and more — not even half of Schiano’s footballers graduate. If you believe that makes the APR “success” look like so much hooey, welcome to the side of clear thinking uninfluenced by the musky smell of jockstraps.

Then there’s the jail issue. Every other year one of Schiano’s kids goes to jail — compared to one kid a year going into the NFL. The nod goes to the NFL, unless of course you are the kid in jail or that kid’s victims.

Mulcahy III and university president Slick McCormick are incessantly ready to cite the APR standings — where Rutgers football is indeed among the highest rated programs — but they neglect to mention that there are many other metrics that show football under Schiano to be a laggard, a program that fails its players as often as it has failed its fans.

Get more details in this Star Ledger round-up from the archives.

Our advice to the early commits — verbals are non-binding, so start thinking anew about where you really want to go to school.

Damn the Alumni, Full speed ahead!

June 25, 2008

Alumni affairs veep Donna Thornton today distributed a dense, three-page memo to class correspondents — who, yes!, get to keep that title, not the much loathed “class contributor” moniker which they had been told would be theirs — and first reaction from one reader was: Damn the alumni, full speed ahead!

Other than apparently infringing on the copyright of the New York Times (we hope we are wrong –more on that possible infringement momentarily), Thornton offered little that is new:

* She apologized for ignoring Rutgers alum input while this gaggle of UMass and Maine graduates in the RU alumni relations office revamped our alumni communications: “We should have communicated with you much earlier about the challenges and ideas we were contemplating and included you in the process. We regret that this left you feeling unappreciated and caught you by surprise.”

* She said buck up, dudes, we still insist on a maximum 200 wd. contribution.

* She backed off, maybe, the policy of printing only some columns in Rutgers magazine: “In the immediate future, we will explore a formula that allows every class to be in every issue as well as maximizes the online capabilities of our more internet savvy graduates. All class columns will be published in the Fall 2008 issue.” Note: there is no promise beyond the next issue.

* “Your title will continue to be Class Correspondent. This title has a long tradition at Rutgers and will continue to serve you and Rutgers well.” Funny that it took a mini-revolt to get an obvious point across but perhaps Mainers just are, well, different.

* In the cover note to her lengthy message, Thornton writes: “You will also receive a copy of this letter in the US mail along with a printed copy of the New York Times article I reference in the letter.” The New York Times article is here — but, Ms. Thornton, making hundreds of photocopies of intellectual property owned by the Times is a violation of rights. We trust — we hope, we pray — you have secured and paid for distribution rights, available by clicking on the “reprint” tab on the article page. (Linking to the article is not a copyright problem. Printing it and mailing it in bulk is.)  We mention all this because a remarkable cluelessness about publishing seems baked into the Rutgers alumni relations approach.

* Boil down Thornton’s turgid, murky miasma of prose and what she seems to be saying is –we don’t really know what we are doing, bear with us, we may figure it out.

* Lucky class correspondents can expect to receive much more of the same: “In the future, we will diligently communicate with you and engage you in a dialogue on items pertaining to the evolution of the Class Notes section in Rutgers Magazine and in the online community.”

Pennypacker Picks 9-3 RU Season

June 22, 2008

At least some Rutgers 1000 stalwarts are ardent gridiron fans and one longtime Rutgers 1000 adherent, Preston Pennypacker, recently approached us with his conviction that the Rutgers football team will go 9-3 this year.

We reacted with skepticism – our sense is that the team (minus Ray Rice and half the offensive line) just isn’t that good.

But Pennypacker persisted. Here are his predictions for the 2008 campaign:

Fresno State (W)

North Carolina (W)

Navy (W)

Morgan State (W)

West Virginia (L)

Cincinnati (L)

Connecticut (W)

Pittsburgh (W)

Syracuse (W)

South Florida (L)

Army (W)

Louisville (W)

What does he base this Panglossian outlook on? Pennypacker explained to us that he is using the 2007 season ending Sagarin ratings. Rutgers ended the season at #38 and, per Pennypacker, the 2008 schedule has more cream puffs than a French bakery. The number in parenthesis is the season ending Sagarin rating.:

Fresno State (60)

North Carolina (69)

Navy (74)

Morgan State (205)

West Virginia (3)

Cincinnati (19)

Connecticut (39)

Pittsburgh (66)

Syracuse (113)

South Florida (20)

Army (131)

Louisville (45)

Is a victory over a Syracuse, an Army, a Morgan State not worth exactly the same as a win over the a top 10 team? You bet those wins count in the calculus of Rutgers athletic director Mulcahy the III. Add in wins over real mediocrities such as North Carolina and Navy and, suddenly, the cunning of Mulcahy III is evident. Rutgers can hardly not have a winning season!

Pennypacker is spot on. The computer says 9-3 is within reach and all that without registering a single quality win. Clap your hands loud for duplicitous scheduling – and know, per Pennypacker, that yet another appearance in a tertiary, low-prestige bowl is assured for the RU football squad.

Go, go Mulcahy III. With scheduling like this, Rutgers cannot lose – and as long as the fans are so intoxicated with the odors of musky jocks that thought is paralyzed they’ll never figure out that the fix was in at the get go.