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No Sweet Without the Sour

Apologies, relevance, and brighter days ahead for Rutgers football.

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First, an apology

Rutgers fans, we owe you an apology. A sincere, heartfelt apology.

An apology for my Off Tackle colleagues, or as I like to call them "The Grande Parade of Asshats."

An apology for Harbaugh's cheeky 2 point conversion.

An apology for the national punchlines, satirical drivel, and nonstop grief.

On behalf of OTE and SB Nation and football writers everywhere, I'm sorry.

The bottom line is that we're a big fat target. Do you think that Minnesota gets this kind of grief? Purdue? Northwestern?

No, because they don't with confidence say that we're the next great football dynasty. When you have ambitions like ours, when you have resources like ours, when you have a bright future like ours, people love to knock you down.

Still, you don't deserve this Rutgers fans, Rutgers players, and Rutgers coaches. You don't deserve this level of vitriol after playing the hardest schedule in the nation during a rebuilding year after losing your most dynamic playmaker while migrating schemes on both sides of the ball and breaking in a new staff after enduring years of scandals and suspensions.

The Big Ten conference was supposed to be one of collegial sportsmanship; a place where gentleman and gentlewomen compete "The Right Way" and pair excellent academic achievement with cordial gamesmanship. This is not the Big Ten that we've seen the past few weeks and I know that comes as a disappointment of many of us.

No Sweet Without The Sour; No Heat Without the Cold

Let's not gloss over the fact that the last 3 weeks have been truly awful. Through and through.

As a Rutgers football fan, I can't remember a feeling of bitter disappointment exactly like this.

The scandals of last year were far worse - existential refutations of everything we hold dear about Rutgers football and athletics at large. That we compete the right way, that we take the high road, that this is a team that we can root for.

This past 3 weeks have been a different beast.

From the Schiano ero to the Flood era, we never truly cycled the program, and never saw blowouts like this. We never saw the perfect storm of talent, scheme mismatch, and gross attrition rendered a once proud program inept against a team they won a landmark game against only 2 years before.

Losing on the road to open the season against a top 5 Washington? That I can stomach.

Losing close to Iowa is a moral victory. I don't care what hyperbole you subscribe to. For the 2016 Scarlet Knights, it was a true moral victory and sign of needed progress.

Losing like that to Ohio State? Yeah, that happens to everyone.

Losing to Michigan in any capacity? Awful. Losing like that to Harbaugh and the tantrum patrol? The worst.
This is the pits. No question about it. No getting around it.

This is awful.

That said, embrace these days Rutgers fans.

Embrace the sour. Pucker up and let it consume your palette.

Embrace the cold. Let it flow through your bones and let you find the outer bounds of what you can stand.

Warmer Days and Sweeter Victories

Remember these days, Rutgers fans, because they aren't going to last forever.

In the macro view, our rise to prominence is an inevitability.

Look to the arc of Rutgers football history. From the early days of the sport, to small school ball, to the Big East to the Big Ten, our march has big one of steady progress.

No school has access to the NYC media empire like we do. No Power 5 school has a talent rich state to themselves. No schools at any level can tap into the passion and depth of New Jersey football fans like Rutgers can.

Don't let the haters get you down. The fact of the matter is that the reason why publications write dig articles about Rutgers is that it drives impressions; it makes noise. Yes, I see the metrics on our site. The big hitters the past few days have been Rutgers hate pieces.

What does that say about our position in the league? Does it say that we're irrelevant? Does it say that we‘re an afterthought? Does it say that we don't belong?

No, it proves why Rutgers is a cornerstone of the Big Ten now and in the future.

Dave White, celebrated novelist and longtime writer at On the Banks put it well:

"Rutgers has raised the Big Ten profile even more, whether fans of tradition want to admit it or not."

There's a reason we're here. Delaney doesn't make mistakes with his conference. This didn't happen by accident. We're here because we belong in the Big Ten, and don't let some smug internet celebrity tell you otherwise.

Savor these days Rutgers fans. Remember them when we start marching towards greatness. Cherish "the bad old days" and let it form the solid core of your fandom. Let it provide relativity to your enjoyment of our future conquests. Let it fuel your tailgate stories for the next few decades. Let it weave a layer onto our colorful and remarkable football history.

There are bright days on the Horizon Rutgers fans. Don't let Sports Illustrated blowhards, Off Tackle hacks, or Harbaugh fanboys tell you otherwise.