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B1G 2019, Rutgers Potluck #1: Fixing Rutgers and Sloppy Joes

Our writers discuss the “magic bullet” for our friends in Piscataway, along with an interestingly-named Jersey culinary...innovation?

Michigan v Rutgers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Welcome back to B1G 2019! We hope you’ve been enjoying the chatter on Rutgers football—stick around for more this week, as our Rutgers writers ZuzuRU and Ray Ransom bring the red- scarlet-hot takes from Piscataway and help us figure out exactly what to expect from the Scarlet Knights in 2019.

Part of our B1G 201X tradition, in case you’ve missed our primer, is a daily potluck in which we offer ALL our OTE writers two things:

  1. A question on the state of that week’s football program, and
  2. A state or regional food for them to turn their noses up at.

If you’re really curious, you can enjoy some old potlucks here, and check out the B1G 201X schedule and guidelines:

We’ve got a lot to get to, though, so head on through the buffet with us!

Question #1: The Football

Coming off a 1-11 season, Rutgers’ deficiencies are clear to all of us in the Big Ten. The popular whipping boys have an historically-bad quarterback, a head coach seemingly in over his head, and facilities upgrades being undermined by a cantankerous relationship between academics and athletics.

Now, let’s accept one thing: Rutgers isn’t going anywhere.

So, my question: What do you believe is the “magic bullet” to fixing Rutgers football in the immediate future? Is it a new head coach? New offense or defense? How can the Knights possibly drag themselves out of the “lose to Kansas” tier of college football and into the “keep it within 2 scores against Ohio State” tier?

Candystripes for Breakfast: Hire a coach who is fully committed to “My team is going to try and score 70 points every got-danged game, and if you can’t stop us then you’ll have to score 71 to beat us”, also known as the Kevin Wilson Philosophy. (Though, you know, maybe make sure he’s not also mistreating your injured players.)

Also, be fully prepared to not actually get any closer than 2 scores against the Buckeyes for a good long time. Say, 30 years or so.

No, I’m not bitter or projecting, how dare you accuse me of such!

Jesse Collins: Perhaps the magic bullet is probably admitting there isn’t a magic bullet.

I think Rutgers has continued to try to be the old-school, tough guy, football that is getting absolutely wrecked by offensive systems and rules changes that allow for #allthepoints. Like my colleague, Candystripes, says above, you gotta try anything else and offense is easier to produce than defense.

At that point, you also gotta be patient as hell. There will be a learning curve from “Let’s see if we can get different results from our dear friend Artur Sitkowski and maybe when we eventually bench him, we can just blame him for our problems” to “Huh, maybe quick passes to our skill players isn’t impossible to put together with a semblance of a plan”.

Oh, and like, maybe—maybe—find a coach who can get along with administration so that you can get somewhere with facilities and what not because that’s really really important.

LincolnParkWildcat: One day our friends in the Garden State will have a football team to be proud of. If Northwestern can recover from the dark ages to be a top 25 team, then Rutgers can do it.

They need to hire someone who’s been a head coach, preferably MAC or somewhere else. Hiring a coordinator or whatever Ash was didn’t work out.

They need to beef up their offensive line and get a powerful running back, and make sure you have a stout, hungry defense. Eventually, Ray’s ever hopeful (hungover or still drunk from too much shandy?) prediction of the sleeping giant rising will happen.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: The magic bullet is a simple one for our friends in New Jersey: After this season, when you struggle to not get humiliated in every single game and fire Chris Ash the second the last game is over, you need to go out and immediately hire a tanned and rested and grumpy Paul Johnson.

Do it, Rutgers. Bring the Triple Option to the B1G so you’re something different that’s not a poor imitation of another team or system that you’re wholly incapable of being. You’re not catching anyone in the East with superior talent, so why not try to just catch everyone off-guard? It’s your best chance to be semi-respectable on the scoreboard.

Andrew Kraszewski: It doesn’t matter what, schematically, your team looks like. Lots of ways to skin the cat of competitiveness. Look no farther than the last time Rutgers was a strong program—it was because you hired a good coach.

I don’t recall Schiano’s schemes being cutting edge on either side of the ball; he was just a good coach (at the time, don’t @ me, OSU fans) who knew the kind of players he needed for his vision and where to get them.

Hire a good coach. Period, full stop. Which, to be clear, is a simple but not easy thing to do. When you do, hope he either stays a while or elevates the program enough that your next coaching search isn’t as much of a crapshoot.

Dead Read: There will need to be incremental steps to success.

Get two receivers who are dangerous after the catch. Get a quarterback who can get the ball to them. Find a running back who can break an occasional long run. Make your opponents earn every score over long drives. Have fun. Fun brings fans. Fans bring money. Money builds facilities. Facilities bring in better players. That is more than one magical thing, isn’t it?

Alas, when it comes to Rutgers football...there are never enough bullets.

Stewmonkey13: As has been said, there is no magic bullet. They simply cannot compete in the Big Ten right now. It will take years, money, completely new administration, completely new coaching. Essentially take rutger, and completely change everything about it.

Ray Ransom: Respectfully, you’re all wrong.

I mean, these are all great answers if you were talking about Illinois or Northwestern or even Maryland. However, you’re not talking about a university that has had major college sports revenue for the better part of the past century. While these fine B1G institutions were bringing in $20 million+ per year in the modern era and comparable amounts throughout modern football history, we were bringing in somewhere between 1-10% of that in the Big East and/or AAC and/or the Middle Three.

The infrastructure isn’t on par yet, the facilities aren’t on par yet, the tradition isn’t on par yet. It’s all moving in the right direction, but anything until Rutgers gets a full revenue share, it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

The only silver bullet that can fix what ails Rutgers is a time machine and a decision to commit to big time college athletics in the 1870’s, not the 1970’s.

All that said, the defense would hold up well and the special teams would be special if we could reduce the turnovers on offense. Don’t even need to score a lot guys, just don’t put the ball in the opposing defense’s hands. Fortunately, a year wiser Sitkowski should lead the charge on that front.

Zuzu: A new head coach hands down. Not an up and comer, but a seasoned tried and true head coach from a previously respectable program at any legitimate level, even the MAC. A fairly big established name who maybe has the ability to help Rutgers out right before retirement/moving to administration would be ideal. Like what Jerry Kill and the Fridge did for us. We have seen in both of them that if you give Rutgers a seasoned coach, Rutgers does better. Imagine that seasoned coach at the top?

Question #2: The Food

Food portion: The New Jersey portion of these potlucks feels like a “point at the animals in the zoo” kind of thing. The Taylor ham/pork roll debate is just bizarre, and we’ve certainly discussed the Fat Sandwich ad nauseam.

In honor of Monday being a “YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT” to Rutgers--I submit to you, then, the Jersey Sloppy Joe. Much like putting Artur Sitkowski on a field and telling us it’s Big Ten football, THIS ISN’T A SLOPPY JOE. Tell us something in your neck of the world that is named something that...well, it just completely isn’t.

Dead Read: “Ad nauseam” is aptly deployed in this case.

Jesse: What… what is that? Anyhow, uh, Nebraska has ‘salads’ at potlucks which are nothing more than mayonnaise and fruit or sometimes even just snickers and apples… but hey, salad.

LPW: There are those in the Windy city that consider Malört a nice liquor, but it’s actually a foul concoction. Avoid it all all costs.

WSR: Yeah, like Nebraska we here in Minnesota have this horribly cruel trick of making “salads” that are just egg jizz ruining good foods. It’s just cruel and unfortunate.

Ray: I’ve lived here for 34 years and I’ve never seen that. Let’s talk more about Fat Sandwiches because those are life.

Stew: Those potluck “salads” are all over the midwest. My aunt makes a “salad” that’s essentially cheesecake.

MNW: Keeping with Jesse’s theme (and WSR’s, I suppose), the summer picnic “salad” for us was the Snicker bar salad...except my mother used fudge-striped shortbread cookies rather than Snickers, for some reason I’ve never figured out.

It was still delicious.

And that sandwich looks terrible.

Zuzu: Well you bring up Taylor Ham vs Pork Roll. That's relevant. You see SOME Jersey folks incorrectly call it pork roll, when in reality it is Taylor Ham.


What’s the Rutgers football magic bullet?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    The Candystripes Option: Adopt the Kevin Wilson Philosophy
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    The Jesse Option: Offense and patience and also an admin-friendly coach?
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    The LPW Option: Get B1Gger
    (5 votes)
  • 32%
    (60 votes)
  • 12%
    The Polish Option: Coach, full stop.
    (23 votes)
  • 6%
    The Dead Read Option: Speed, offense, and fun.
    (12 votes)
  • 16%
    The Stew Option: Just, uh, change everything.
    (31 votes)
  • 12%
    The Ray Ransom Option: Wait for that sweet, sweet B1G money.
    (24 votes)
185 votes total Vote Now


Would you eat the Jersey Sloppy Joe?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    (21 votes)
  • 37%
    Sure, but it’s not a sloppy joe.
    (61 votes)
  • 49%
    Hell no.
    (79 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now