Through my innumerable Rutgers connections on Twitter, it turns out that I have a connection with the sad, lonely Rutgers fan featured in the header photo! The world is a very small place. This gentleman, of course, joins many others in being internet immortalized as a sad, lonely fan still present for their team even after things have become awful. For Rutgers, that awful was a shutout and blowout 78-0 loss to Michigan at home.
Our sad, lonely fan’s name is Christian, he’s a Northern New Jersey native and Rutgers 2015 alumnus. The picture he was captured in proves he is a Loyal Son of Rutgers and Off Tackle Empire got the exclusive interview.
So, first thing I have to ask you is, were you actually sad and lonely?
Christian: Sad, yes. Lonely, no. I came to the game with my girlfriend and met up with some friends who were absolute troopers and stuck the game out with me even when it was clear the game was decided. We all knew this year would be a rebuild year, but not 78-0 kind of rebuild, and I'm lucky to have people who tolerate me enough to stay in the stands for these kinds of games.
Why were you sad and alone at that moment?
Christian: By that point in the game my friends I had met up with were getting ready to leave and my girlfriend had gone to say hi to some friends of hers in another section, leaving me to contemplate a score I expected to see when we played Michigan in basketball, not in football.
I see you were wearing black, is that the color of the stripe you were in for Rutgers' first ever #StripeTheBirthplace, or were you in the student section?
Christian: My season tickets were in a black section for the stripeout, but we quickly moved over to the student section. I wore a red shirt underneath my jersey so in the event we moved to a section of red we wouldn't stand out. Unfortunately all that maize and blue did a little damage to the effect.
Overall, what was going through your head with this game?
Christian: The biggest thing going through my head was what an uphill climb it's going to be, and that game really quantified what it will take to be a competitor in this league. It wasn't any one thing. Talent disparity obviously, because nobody else has a Jabrill Peppers running around, and we saw what happens when you lose that kind of playmaker when we lost Janarion Grant for the year. But beyond talent, it was execution, it was preparedness, and it was coaching. There was a sizable gap in every area beyond just the score, and playing the #2, #3, and #5 teams in the country in the first six weeks has show how far we have to go to be among those teams.
Will you attend more games this season?
Christian: I absolutely will be at every game no matter what. I've been a season ticket holder since graduating last year and had student season tickets in the years before that. I'm flying out to Minnesota for the game at the end of October, and I'm hoping to hit every Big Ten campus in the next couple of years. We've got some awesome new conference mates and I love exploring new campuses beyond just seeing the games.
How long have you been a Rutgers Fan?
Christian: My very first Rutgers game was my freshman year of high school, watching Ray Rice run all over Army in the rain and snow at West Point in 2007. I marched drumline in high school and remember taking a moment of silence on the field my senior year after Eric's injury. I always loved Rutgers, but I became a fan when I got to campus and started going to games my freshman year, and my (arguably insane) fandom has only gotten stronger as time has gone on.
Did you realize that you were just about to become the face of Rutgers Football’s current state of affairs?
Christian: I had no idea but I'm glad to help out the cause! You could have taken a picture of just about any Rutgers fan in the stadium in the fourth quarter and seen similar faces. We all want to see this team succeed, we all want to see progress, we all want to see a W. I think part of why these last couple weeks of rough losses have stung is because of the incredible job Ash has done changing the culture, recruiting New Jersey, and building a program we can get behind. He may have raised the expectations way before we were ready, and if any sane person thought this team was going to hang with Washington, Ohio State, and Michigan this year, you'd have been out of your mind. I thought we could have, but I don't pretend to be a sane person when it comes to Rutgers football.
Do you have any other thoughts on the game or on Rutgers Football?
Christian: To any fan, from the most diehard to the most casual spectator, to the armchair quarterbacks mocking this team on social media, wait. Patience. I believe wholeheartedly in what Ash is doing, but it's going to take time. Greg Schiano went 3-20 in his first two seasons and didn't post a winning record until his fifth year at the helm. I spoke to Ohio State fans before the game last week and most were incredibly cordial, and told me they know Ash can turn it around, and if he can't, no one can. So we have to ride out the storm of the 48-13s, the 58-0s, and the 78-0s to get to the ones where we get to storm the field and start watching the polls for our name each week.
If you could say anything to the Big Ten community concerning Rutgers , what would it be?
Christian: Be nice to us. We're new here.
Let's all thank Christian for his great answers! It's not every day that these sad, lonely fans get to share their voices and perspective with the world.