Welcome to the 2017 Rutgers Potluck series, where we’ll discuss foods and football in the Garden State. New Jersey makes some fine foods, which we’ve featured in these pages over the years. Salt water taffy, cheese steaks, and food trucks are all good...
Rutgers football - not so much.
In honor of that gridiron tragedy that is the Scarlet Knights, we’re going to highlight some of New Jersey’s less appetizing foods. We’ll start off with tomato pie.
Like Rutgers football, it has all the ingredients for success – dough, sauce, cheese, toppings, etc… Done in the proper order, it’s pizza. But done jersey style, it’s a bloody mess. Tomato pie has the dough on the bottom, then the cheese and toppings, smothered by sauce.
The result is bad. It doesn’t look right. It has the wrong consistency. It’s not pizza. Just like Rutgers players aren’t doing football correctly.
That exactly describes Rutgers football season in 2016. They had a series of decent recruiting classes. They had a big, pocket passing quarterback. They had a high-profile wide reciever. They hired a young, up and coming coach in Chris Ash. So all the ingredients are there...
And they promptly went 2-10. There were four shutouts last season, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. Rutgers lost those games by a total of 224 to 0.
I look at tomato pie and see a gross waste of good ingredients. That’s exactly wat 2016 looked like to me. Watching Janarion Grant play for Rutgers (and Leonte Carroo before him). It’s such a waste.
Question: What talented player did your team have, who either never lived up to his promise or was totally wasted by your coaches?
GF: Great question. Will Campbell. Michigan DT, turned O-Line, turned fullback, back to DT. One of the highest rated Wolverine recruits, a can’t-miss prospect, someone that big shouldn’t be that athletic…
When I rolled with the Wolverines in 2010, this giant human being chatted me up, talked football, facilities...so to see his tremendous talent never really show, muted by weight issues, off-the-field issues, effort issues...That’s tough.
Speth: Well considering Wisconsin by a lot of measurements is the most overachieving team in college football, this is tough. I'll say Bart Houston. I find it hard to believe that the most talented QB Wisconsin’s ever recruited by recruiting rankings was only ever worth splitting time with a freshman/backing up noted garbage QB Joel Stave
Candystripes: I feel like the best answer I can give to this question is Antwaan Randle El. Somehow, in four seasons of college ball, Cam Cameron couldn’t get Randle El to a bowl game. Of course, one could argue that anyone with talent who came to IU for football was likely wasted by the coaches prior to the last 6 or so years, but ignore that.
Jesse: I’ve got to wonder if the biggest waste of talent is probably Aaron Green. Considering the way he finished at TCU, it feels like we could have used him in more ways than we did. That said, it’s hard to blame coaches when you also had Ameer Abdullah tearing it up, so who knows? Perhaps we look elsewhere, like maybe that time we had Cody Green at QB as a 4* QB that never actually made it.
Aaron: You mean besides Christian Hackenberg? During the Anthony Morelli era, Chris Bell was one of the most talented wide receiver prospects I remember Penn State recruiting. He showed some serious potential during his first two seasons but then threatened Devon Still with a knife and was never heard from again.
Townie: I have to go with Hackenberg, as Penn State’s biggest waste. Here’s a huge talent, who commits to a school, only to see his coaching staff bolt for the NFL after his freshman year. He has no offensive line. His new coordinator really wants a run/pass option style offense. The results were...ugly.
At another school, Hackenberg lives up to his potential. At Penn State in a different time, he could too. But his timing and loyalty ended up costing him. I wish him all the best in the pro’s.