Scrutinizing Rutgers Football

Now the AP has moved a story about the Schianogate scandals that threaten to destroy what little reputation Rutgers has left.  The reporter quotes Professor Wm. Dowling: “Rutgers is well on the way to becoming what students call a school of last resort,” said William C. Dowling, a professor of English. “That is death to a school of Rutgers’ history, stature and tradition. And sports have been entirely responsible for the damage.”

Ouch.  And it gets worse.  Dozens of newspapers across the country have picked up the AP story, where they read this: “critics note that Rutgers’ place in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings has been slipping. In the latest edition, it was 24th among public universities, down from 16th in 1998.”

Ouch again.  The more money that goes into football, the less is left for academics and the proof of that is in the steady rating decline during the Slick McCormick-Mulcahy III era of sports first.

Meantime, and despite the many millions spent on football, Rutgers opened its season yesterday with a loss characterized by clueless play and clueless coaching.  The Ledger’s Steve Politi nicely sums up how bad the afternoon was here.  He writes: “those $650 seats in the luxury suites might be landing on eBay in record numbers, because unless something changes, this season is going nowhere.”

McCormick and Mulcahy III repeatedly tell us bigtime football will bring good press to Rutgers.  Indeed.  Rutgers will kick itself in the morning.

As Paul Franklin wrote in Gannett, “This is a program that is supposed to be on the way up, a program that plans on buying so it no longer has to rent. The rent was due Monday. How embarrassing.”

Which brings us back to the reckless, foolhardy, stupid stadium expansion where another $100 million, give or take, apparently will be poured into building 14,000 new seats which no one will want. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, Rutgers Stadium will stand half-empty for the Army game as fan dissatisfaction erupts into booing and widespread rejection of an inferior sports product — albeit an expensive product that shows little payback.  As the elder Richard McCormick suggested to the New York Times 10 years ago, this is no place for small time college football. “Rutgers could have trouble making money on sports because of its location, said Richard McCormick, the university historian. With the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles nearby, New Jersey residents are less likely to attend college football games, he said.”

Meantime, Class of 1970 alumnus Doug Remer (a Florida reverend) has a poignant look at the cut Olympic sports in today’s Targum.  Read it for a glimpse of what Rutgers could be, should be.


10 Responses to Scrutinizing Rutgers Football

  1. John Lister says:

    Doug Remer’s elegy mentions an e-mail from Alumni Relations describing alumni success at the Beijing Olympics. Rutgers staff received an e-mail from President McCormick today which, inter alia, mentioned two Olympic successes.

    Remer’s article mentioned what could have been, but he missed Rebecca Soni, who swam at Rutgers throughout her highschool years (with the Scarlet Aquatic Club), but went elsewhere to swim at college. That’s another gold and two silvers.

    But hey, we got a great return on our investment in football yesterday!

  2. ashok says:

    I think there needs to be a statement about whether or not principled opposition to Rutgers’ involvement in division 1 football necessitates the football team doing poorly.

    I think many of us are clear that the only reason why the football team doing badly is an issue is because of all the great things we’ve been promised by a corrupt administration willing to use taxpayer dollars for any mess they can create which involves patronage and shady accounting.

    But we don’t – and shouldn’t – need the football team to do poorly to make that case. For lets say the promises came true: would near-professional athletics still constitute a blight on Rutgers’ academics?

    This brings us, of course, to the bigger issue of whether the trendiness driving college rankings and dept. rankings also constitutes a blight on Rutgers’ academics. I think Prof. Dowling has been quite vocal on that front and perhaps that case needs to be made more strongly. No matter what, Rutgers is facing budget cuts. The issue for the taxpayer is whether or not the future of this country is getting an adequate education. The funny thing is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money to teach Shakespeare properly or to think hard about whether Aristotle truly breaks from Platonic thought or not, but it does take an incredible expertise. Lest this sort of “liberal arts” ideal I’m implying seem farfetched, I’ll put it to you this way – if it was good enough for people like Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and even those such as Machiavelli (cf. Letter to Vettori) or Nietzsche, then why all of a sudden does it not matter to a university that couldn’t afford the trendy stuff even if it wanted to teach it?

  3. ferdek says:

    If the football team has a mediocre season, no bowl game and some half empty stadiums towards the end of the season then the hype of “super” Schiano would be dealt a real blow to deflate the “we are big time” mantra pushed by the three musketeers. It would be a high expectations/low achievement disappointment for the pro-Big Time football crowd and for a lot of normal RU supporters. It would then give anti-big time football advocates additional justification for a full scale financial investigation of the football program. But there will be a need either way for RU leadership to figure out why RU is losing the financial and moral support from Trenton: is it because McCormick has failed to inspire confidence? And has RU failed to really cut the administrative fat from its budgets? It is entirely possible that RU’s academic reputation is suffering both from a lack of adequate funding(no confidence vote for McCormick) and the financial drain of an out of control football program(no confidence vote for Schiano/Mulcahy). It is the duty of RU 1000 to focus on both possible causes with increased analytics and less histrionics.

  4. ferdek says:

    BTW: if the decline in academic quality has likely been going down for 15 or so years then it predates Schiano by some 7-8 years which would argue for a broader look at the RU administrations of McCormick and his predecessor. In that view the quest for big time football would be a possible incremental cause for additional decline in the quality of the academics at RU. Just a thought to refocus on a broader cause(s) for the apparent decline in RU’s academics.

  5. Huck Finne says:

    While the issue of academic decline at Rutgers certainly includes much more than over-emphasis on football, the fact remains that both funding and attention are zero sum games. Until Rutgers stops focusing on something other than academics, it can’t focus on what matters.

  6. ferdek says:

    Unless there is quantum change in attitudes there will be basically two camps those that want big time football to succeed and the other those that want it to fail. Unfortunately that’s how the debate has been cast so there really isn’t much room for a third or centrist position which would be a strategic plan that identifies the most needed academic and quality of campus life improvements and fight for their priority in all funding decisions. To the maximum extent possible the football program should provide a subsidy to RU. If it can be shown that it does not and likely never will then something in the program has to be scaled back. A “whatever it takes to spend” attitude can and probably is a divisive issue on campus as students struggle to pay for their college educations. Not every team in DivIA can be in the top 25 that’s reality. Also, recruiting standards and behavioral standards have to be strictly enforced lest the school goes down the road to thug town that exists on far too many campuses hell bent on winning at all costs. Until there is a belief that their is a viable peaceful coexistence possible then we shall just rant and rave at each other some with our faces painted red and others with their veins popping out of our necks. Campus Harmony is our goal with academic excellence and quality athletics.

  7. Hutchwasdumb says:

    It does not get better than this. Alums are starting to sign complaints with the state attorneys office about ticket sales by unlicensed websites with Rutgers blessings to offer resale of football tickets. Make sure you pay for those priority points suckers as the RU admnistration undercuts your ticker purchase with shill forums.How damn dumb RU?

  8. Alum from the Banks says:

    The losses of the football team are important because it slows down the freight train of irrational behavior from within. The booster culture obviously ignores its critics, but loses steam when even the fans can’t justify it. When they slow down enough, then their house of cards collapses because even those attracted only by winning desert them. They are forced to hear the lonely echo of delusion.

    And to the people who think that those against the current situation aren’t doing anything, please look at the countless letters, columns and news articles throughout the state and now nation (and don’t that the people posting here are the only ones reading this blog). It was Rutgers 1000 that brought the issue of the expansion of the stadium to the forefront in the first place. The presence alone of opposition has hindered what $chiano and Mob Bull-cahy thought would be an easy sell.

    Rutgers is in a tight spot right now because its Board of Governors is run by yobbos and the state is run by yahoos. It’s hard to win a debate when your choice of venues is the carnival or the circus.

  9. RUcklessDriving says:

    Cue the caliope,the RUngling Bros.are back in town for their September-December Ripoff Tour. Watch Nate the dancing elephant,the Reverand Willy “pass the plate” and the legend of the Three Rings, “Free plane Ride Dickey” do their thing.If your lucky you may even catch the Bearded Millionaire getting a complimentary cocktail while he performs his infamous ventriloquist act with FeFe LaRue on his lap at the Buddabing Lounge. Hey it’s free,your tax dollars and tuitions paid for this ultimate sideshow that has now taken center stage.
    Over the stadium PA,”And now ladies and Gentlemen in the center ring,the world renkown disappearing fund act of the traveling Gilbanes.” “Don’t blink folks,before you know it all your money will be gone.”
    For you people in the cheap seats we still have the illegal Touchdown Club Raffle to pin your hopes on. Yes, we’ll get you one way or another. Youza youza youza……

  10. Anonymous says:

    A Better Look at Sports Budgets

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