Saturday, August 29, 2009


Rutgers University has been in existence since 1766 and has a had a football team since 1869. It became "The State University of New Jersey" in 1945, but when it comes to athletics, Rutgers was never thought of as "New Jersey's team." Rutgers Athletics, for the majority of the 20th century, was like the uncle who comes over for Christmas dinner, has one too many eggnogs, and ends up passed out under the tree without his clothes. You didn't totally disown him, but you weren't proud to call him uncle either.

The previous century saw spirited debate amongst New Jersey college football fans with regards to who was truly New Jersey's team - Notre Dame or Penn State? When it came to college basketball, there was no debate. Syracuse was New Jersey's team, save for 1989, when a feisty little Italian man from South Orange took his three seed to the national championship game with back to back upsets of UNLV in the West Regional Final and Duke in the the Final Four, before losing a one point heartbreaker to Michigan in the championship.

A lot has changed since then, however. Kids born in the Garden State today don't have to root for Notre Dame, or Penn State. This is the first generation of New Jerseyans that will never have to walk in to Rutgers Stadium with a paper bag on its collective head. Kids across the state are wearing Rutgers gear. Rutgers posters are hung up in the high school football locker rooms across the state. The Edison High School football has has even adopted Eric Foster's locker room chant from 2006. For the first time in the history of Rutgers football, people are actually predicting the Knights to take home the Big East crown and earn its first BCS berth. Expectations are higher than they were in 2007 (thanks in part to a favorable schedule), or ever for that matter. The New Jersey faithful are proud to call Rutgers "our team." How did this happen?

Let's look at the milestones this program has realized in recent years that have brought us to this point:

April 15, 1998 - Bob Mulcahy hired as Director of Athletics. While this act alone did not turn the tide in favor of the Knights, make no mistake - Rutgers would still be in the cellar of the Big East if it were not for Mulcahy. He replaced long time Athletics Director Fred Grunninger, who was in over his head. While its true that Grunniger is a great man whom deserves nothing but respect, the fact of the matter is, a chia pet would have been a better AD. The former golf coach had great intentions, but did not have what it takes. The personnel that Mulcahy brought in, as well as much needed upgrades to some of the poorest facilities in the nation were the springboard to the success we are seeing now.

December 1, 2000 - Hiring of Greg Schiano. This would be the personnel referred to in the previous paragraph. The recruiting success that Schiano has achieved is unprecedented in Rutgers history. He is to Rutgers football what bread is to butter. St. Gregory of Piscataway certainly has his own cult following, but it wasn't always that way.

2001 Football Season - The Knights won their first game under Schiano at Buffalo. They finished 2-9 (the only other win over Navy) and were trashed by Big East defectors Virginia Tech and Miami by a combined score of 111-0. That was capped off by an 80-7 loss vs. West Virginia. "Same old Rutgers" was the cry heard 'round state. The grass hadn't even begun to grow under Schiano's feet and the the rumblings had begun.

2002 Football Season - Schiano's second campaign was worse than his first. The team finished 1-11 with its lone win vs. Army. This year didn't win over any fans.

2003 Football Season - The 5-7 campaign (with wins over Buffalo, Army, Navy, Temple and Syracuse) included the first two Big East wins under Schiano. It also marked the first time Schiano beat a team that was not called "Buffalo", "Army", "Navy", or "Temple." The tide was turning. People started to believe but it wasn't enough to erase more than 130 years of losing.

2004 Football Season - A win against Michigan State in the season opener could have been the thing that really got this program back on track, but the Knights followed it up with a loss the next week against FCS opponent (nee I-AA) New Hampshire. The faithful were ready to run Schiano out of town on a rail. The Knights started off 4-2 (with wins against Kent State, Vandernilt and Temple) but ended up dropping the last five to finish 4-7. One note here is that after the Homecoming game against Temple, an intoxicated driver, going the wrong way on route 18, hit a car that was occupied by defensive backs Manny Collins, Eddie Grime & Dondre Asberry. Who knows what could have been if those three had been around for second half of the season. Collins was the only one that retunred to football, and Asberry still cannot walk.

2005 Football Season - Rutgers finished 7-5 and made the second bowl appearance in school history (the first since 1978). This was the year that truly turned things around, but there was one specific moment that can be defined the turning point in Rutgers football history -

November 26, 2005 - Rutgers 44 - Cincinnati 9. The Bearcats beat the Knights 26-24 in 1992 crushing their bowl hopes that year. Coming into this game, Rutgers amassed victories over Buffalo, Vilanova, Pitt, Syracuse, Connecticut and Navy. They needed a win over Cincinatito virtually guarantee a bowl berth. The Knights rushed for 337 yards (led by freshman Ray Rice) and senior quarterback Ryan Hart threw for another 237. A loss in this game meant a 6-6 season and possibly no bowl appearance. This game solidified the 2005 season and in turn provided a foundation for the program. Since then, these two teams have had some pretty meaningful games. The Bearcats stunned the Knights in 2006 and dashed their hopes of a national title. The next two meetings were also won by Cincinnati by a combined 8 points.

The Bearcats and Scarlet Knights go head to head on Labor Day in what could decide the Big East Championship. Both teams are trying to take their program to the next level, and anything can happen in this game. The only thing we know for sure is that this day wouldn't be possible if it weren't November 26, 2005.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


These guys are really beat up...plenty of bumps and bruises. Steve Shimko is “foggy” following Wednesday’s scrimmage. Not sure if this is a medical term or a state of mind, literally. Stephante Kent is on the road to recovery but Marcus Witherspoon can’t seem to catch a break since enrolling late last summer. He once again injured himself this week, this time a leg muscle, and was referred to as being “snakebit”. George Johnson and Blair Bines appear to be slowly nursing themselves back to health following respective shoulder and leg injuries in the past week. I guarantee that we will see both of them will themselves back onto the field for the Cincinnati opener to the awe of Coach Schiano.

- No one seems to know the exact status of Ryan D’Imperio following his leg injury last week and limited work during Saturday’s scrimmage. Is he back to full health yet?

- TBA…Schiano seems set on holding off any key positional announcements until he absolutely has to. Not sure if this is a strategic move or he’s just not sure. I can understand that he want’s to let Antonio Lowery and Manny Abreu pound it out for a few more days since both have had great camps, but at wide receiver? It seemed like Sanu has this one wrapped up with a bow already behind Tim Brown.

- The running men…Joe Martinek and Jourdan Brooks with a little bit of Rocket sprinkled in put up some ungodly numbers in Wednesdays scrimmage (combined 22 rushes for 243 yards), albeit against a freshman and sophomore laden scout team. Whether you wan to call them a 1-2 punch or running back by committee, these guys are going to give opposing defenses fits this year with the different looks that each offers.

- On the offense…The chatter has been so focused lately on the quarterback battle (which is now down to two plus Jabu) that we’ve all somehow forgotten about how well the rest of the offense has played in camp. True, defense dominated for the better part of the first two scrimmages, but this is exactly what we expected them to do. I would personally have been surprised (and concerned) if the offense put up any kind of big numbers against the 1’s on defense during scrimmages. I’m not saying that the 38-0 hurtin’ that was put to the scout team is what our offense is capable of week in and week out in the Big East. But maybe the reality of this offense is somewhere in between this and the beatings they received in the first two scrimmages as long as they can protect the ball. Stephante Kent

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It seems that just about everyone around here is talking about the move of DC Jefferson to TE. It’s a clear sign from Schiano that the tight end depth situation behind Shamar Graves is much more of a concern now then providing depth and competition at QB where Natale and Savage are the clear No. 1 and No. 2 options. While those of us that have speculated for months about a move of Jefferson to TE can now pat themselves on the back, what truly amazes me is the unselfishness shown by DC making the move in an effort to help the team where it was needed most. DC is a kid who turned down SEC glory to come to Rutgers to be the then quarterback of the future in 2008. Following a less then stellar spring game performance and the arrival of Tom Savage, he very easily could have up and left the program but he stuck it out. He entered camp as a likely third or fourth option on the depth chart but he showed his promise by registering the only scoring drive (70 yards) in the first scrimmage and did enough at Saturday’s second scrimmage to remain in the QB conversation. While he seems to have done enough right to make his case as the starting quarterback, it was ultimately his choice to make the switch to TE following a discussion with Coach Schiano prior to Monday’s practice. "I'm good with it," he said. "I decided I can do it, that I was capable of doing it and it's best for the team. I have no problem with it." Baring injury or the emergence of Savage as the offensive leader, Jefferson will once again get a shot at the starting QB slot in the spring. And if it turns out that the future QB situation does not clear up during this season, don’t be surprised at all if Jefferson emerges as the team leader in part due to his unselfish act and his desire to do whatever he can to make this team the best it can be…Keep Chopin' DC!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


No Big East teams in the Preseason Top 25…Not a single one. Pittsburgh came the closest at 28, followed by Rutgers at 30, West Virginia at 32 and Cincinnati at 33. South Florida rounded out the “also receiving votes” contingent at 45. While this will surely ignite a fire around the nation regarding the inclusion of the Big East in the BCS bowl schedule and Orrin Hatch will once again climb atop his soap box, claiming the injustices of the BSC and the non inclusion of Utah and the rest of the Mountain West (which has three teams in the top 25), all of this seams like a complete over reaction. Yes, the Big East begins the 2009 season lacking star status losing players like Pat White, Lesean McCoy, Donald Brown and Kenny Britt to the NFL. Cincinnati’s lackluster performance against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl also didn’t help the Big East’s position in the BCS conference pecking order. But what everyone seems to overlook though is the tremendous parity that has emerged in the conference as a result of these changes. At the annual Big East football media day, four teams received first place votes to finish atop the Big East. Curiously, Rutgers picked to finish fifth and who several media outlets pick to win the conference, did not receive a single first place vote as determined by Big East media. No coach, whether you’re Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll or Doug Marrone likes dealing with high expectations. High expectations are a very, very dangerous for the kind of teams the Big East has entering the season: young, talented, hungry. There is too much talent in this year’s edition of Big East football. A new cast of stars awaits in the wings to become the next poster boys for the Big East on the national stage. We may not see it right away, but we will see it at some point this season. Time will tell. Having no teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 may end up being the best thing that happened to this conference after all.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Following NCAA regulations requiring teams to alternate its two-a-day practices, the Scarlet Knights concluded Friday’s practice following the morning workout leaving the team the afternoon to prepare for Saturday’s scrimmage….Here’s what went down.

• Gunners…Schiano commented following practice that Joe Lefeged, Devin McCourty, Brandon Bing and Brandon Jones are competing for gunner spots on punt coverage. The smart money is on Lefeged filling one of those spots. I hope to see many, many Lefeged gunner highlights on youtube this fall. However, I’m sure that G Rob (now defensive coordinator for Rich Rod) hopes he never sees Lefeged again.

• More on D’Imperio…Captain D’Imperio returned to full contact today following a limited workout on Thursday. Apparently Brian Bennett of ESPN was so concerned over the injury that he was preparing to change his prediction of Rutgers finishing atop the Big East depending on the magnitude of his injury…Don’t worry Brian your safe now.

• An interesting position change. Fabian Ruiz, the only other TE besides Shamar Graves with team experience is now working out at defensive end. Howard Barbieri (all 6’5” 300 lbs of him) and Marlon Romulus are now auditioning as blocking TE’s.

• Elsewhere…Tom Luicci reported that Dom Natale had his first “Mike Teel Moment” when he willed his way to a touchdown on a fourth down and goal during Thursday’s practice. While we may all differ on the historical interpretation of a “Teel” moment, Natale has clearly separated himself from the pack and is now establishing himself as the leader of this offense and the team. Look for more on Natale’s leadership during Saturday’s scrimmage.


Some very encouraging news from the practice fields today.

• Ryan D’Imperio (leg), Blair Bines (ankle), Jonathan Freeny (ankle) and Tim Brown (ankle) all appear to be OK and practiced today to varying degrees
• Other good news…Scott Vallone and Justin Francis both appeared to pass the doing more then adequate jobs filling in for Bines and Freeny
• Some bad news…..Kordell Young just can’t seem to shake this knee thing. Has a few good days followed by a few bad ones. Hope to see that he can be more then just a roll player during the season. Only rest will tell.
• Rutgers is close to inking a deal to play a 2010 home gain against Army in the new Meadlands. The potential matchup would be the first college game at the new complex and could net Rutgers $2.7 million in the process.


Since it’s a fairly slow day for Rutgers football news, it’s a good time to take a quick peak into Cincinnati’s training camp. No doubt there is big play potential for the potent Tony Pike lead offense. The senior QB’s appears to have picked up in camp where he left off in 2008 where he threw for 2,407 yards and 19 TD’s. At today’s Media Day, the always affable Coach Brian Kelly had this to say about the performance of his offensive unit in camp. “One of the things that has come out of camp is that we can get big-chunk plays with the offense we have….more than the last couple of years.” Although there are ten gaping holes that need to be filled in the Bearcat defense going into camp, defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs seems very encouraged by what he’s seen so far. “It’s much deeper…Just like today when you’ve got a corner running off on a deep long ball, rather than have him go to the line of scrimmage and play another snap at maybe 90 percent, we can bring a guy off the sideline at 100 percent. We have enough guys to do that.” So far no real surprises at Kelly Camp as this offense appears primed and ready to pick up where it left off in 2008 (with the exception of the Orange Bowl of course). Only time will tell with this defense though as it tries to replace three first team all Big east Performers from a year ago.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


With the new revelation that Greg Schiano may play as many as three QB’s during the season opener against Cincinnati, one has to wonder exactly what is going on. Although not statistically, Dom Natale has clearly separated himself from the pack with his grasp of the offense and DC Jefferson has surprised some in piloting the offense to its only sustained drive and score during Tuesday’s scrimmage….But lining up Lovelace at wideout? Is this the work of a madman or genius at work by giving a Bearcat defense (one that replaces ten of its eleven starters) more looks then a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It's mid-August and that can only mean two things. 1) Everyone with an internet connection has started predicting possible bowl matchups for the 2009 NCAA Football Season and 2) We are less than one month away from Tony Siragusa's nonsensical sideline rants.
We all know by now that Sports Illustrated has picked Rutgers to win the Big East and has predicted that they will earn a Sugar Bowl berth vs. Ole Miss. The only thing I am willing to predict is that it is too early to predict anything. It does make me wonder though. I think back to that night on December 2, 2006, in Morgantown. No Rutgers team before or since has ever come that close to a BCS berth. How does this year's team compare to that one, and more importantly, can this team be the first ever Rutgers team to play football on New Year's Day? Let's take a look, position by position.



2006 - Statistics don't lie. Mike Teel is the best quarterback in the history of the program. He showed signs of greatness at times - we all want to remember him as the quarteback that tied a Big East record tossing 7 touchdown passes vs. Louisville last year. But there were plenty of times that he looked more like Garo Yepremian than Johnny Unitas - think of his first start, at Syracuse in 2005 (3 interceptions in a winning effort) or the drubbing he took at Louisville later that year. The 2006 Mike Teel was not the same Mike Teel that broke all of the school records. He managed the game, and played well enough not to lose.

2009 - The only thing that we know about the 2009 quarterback battle so far is that Steve Shimko will probably not see any significant action. Wherever the Natale, Lovelace, Jefferson, Savage merry-go-round lands, one thing is certain - none of them have any experience.

Slight Advantage - 2006 Team


2006 - Ray Rice. Enough said.

2009 - Joe Martinek is creating some separation between himself and Jourdan Brooks. Both are tremendous runners. The injury-plagued Kordell Young could also be in the mix, if he ever gets healthy. True freshman De'Antwan Williams will also be given a look, but it's too big of hill for an 18 year old to climb. The safe money is on Martinek, with Brooks occasionally spelling him.

Advantage - 2006 Team, of course, but these guys can run.


2006 - If any one person, other than Greg Schiano, can be credited with turning this program around, it's Brian Leonard. Whether he carried the ball, or paved the way for Rice, he was the lynch pin of the offense. Not only did he produce, but he was a leader on and off the field. He was the ultimate teamate.

2009 - It's unfair for anyone to expect Jack Corcoran to be the next Brian Leonard. Those shoes are too big to fill. Corcoran has proven to be a capable receiver out of the backfield and certainly has done well picking up blitzers that get through the line.

Advantage - 2006 Team

Wide Receiver

2006 - By the end of the year Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood were the top two receivers. Both of those guys will be playing on Sundays this fall.

2009 - Tim Brown is the top receiver this year with true freshman Mohammed Sanu right behind him. Sanu has shown signs of greatness in the first five days of camp. If you think he's a good reciever, you should see him return punts. This kid is talented and will help the team immediately.

Advanatge - 2006 Team, it's too early to tell what Sanu will bring and Brown has been too inconsistent throughout his career.

Tight End

2006 - Clark Harris followed in the footsteps of Marco Battaglia and LJ Smith, writing his own chapter in the legacy of Rutgers tight ends.

2009 - Shamar Graves has had some great moments, but has also been very sloppy at times. I have not been impressed with the incoming freshamn class, led by Malcolm Bush, through the first five practices.

Advantage - 2006 Team

Offensive Line

2006 - Sosa, Zuttah, Fladell, Stephenson, Stapleton. That looks more like a Who's Who list of NFL rosters, and even includes one Super Bowl ring.

2009 - Davis (now that he made weight), Haslam, Forst, Ruch, Blasczyk. This could be one of the Top 5 offensive lines in the country. This unit was solely responsible for the 1-5 start last year, as well as the fantastic finish. When they finally geled, the team rode their backs to seven straight victories. And all 5 are coming back this year.

Advantage - 2009 Team, though the '06 team is riddled with NFL players, they did not have the continuity or solidarity of this year's line.


Defensive Line

2006 - Eric Foster was not only the leader of his unit, he also took on the unofficial title of team cheerleader. The rest of the team fed off of him. Foster, Ramel Meekins, Jaamal Westerman and William "Papa" Beckford were a four man wrecking crew.

2009 - George Johnson, Alex Silvestro and Jonhathan Freeny have cemeted their place on the line. This group is deep as well. Eric LeGrand, a healthy Charlie Noonan, Blair Bines and true freshman Andre Civil should also compete for playing time. Frehman Scott Vallone and junior Sorie Bayoh are further down the the depth chart, although Bayoh will probably see some time on special teams.

Advantage - 2009 Team, it's much deeper than the 2006 team.


2006 - The linebacking corps was anchored by Devraun Thompson, whose 4th and Goal stop at North Carolina set the tone for the rest of the season. His supporting cast included Quintero Frierson, Kevin Malast and Brandon Renkart, among others.

2009 - Ryan D'Imperio and Damaso Munoz have locked up starting jobs. Manny Abreu and Antonio Lowry have not yet lived up to their potential.

Advantage - 2006 Team. Although the 2009 team is more talented, they are too inconsistent.

Defensive Backs

2006 - Girault, Greene, and Collins were solid all year. Derek Roberson, Glen Lee and Jason McCourty also saw action.

2009 - Zaire Kitchen and Joe LeFeged are the safeties. Devin McCourty is firmly entrenched at one corner. Brandon Bing, Khaseem Greene and highly-touted newcomer Darrel Givens will compete for the other.

Advanatge - 2009 Team, as long as LeFeged still keeps hitting hard and Givens lives up to his billing.

You don't have to be Albert Einstein to see that the 2006 team fared better in most categories than the 2009 team, but there is still one more category that has not yet been discussed - the favorable Big East Schedule. The 2009 team has defending champs Cincinnati at home, along with Pitt, South Florida and West Virginia. Conference road trips include Louisville, Connecticut and Syracuse. If the quarterback, whoever that may be, is capable enough not to lose, the Knights may just celebrate the New Year in style.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The latest news from around Rutgers Nation from day two of training camp:

  • It seems that Schiano can't say enough about the senior leadership on this team. For the second day in a row, the head coach gushed about the attitude and experience of his 14 seniors as it seems that he feels this will clearly shape the outcome of the 2009 campaign.
  • Jourdan Brooks is ready. The 6-1 230 lb running back has reported to camp in superior physical condition. Coach Schiano stated that this will allow him to "practice harder, which in turn allows him to be a better player." Brooks finished second on the team in 2008 with 531 rushing yards on 100 carries including 100 yard performances against Morgan State and Louisville.
  • Two days into camp and no mention of Joe Martinek yet.
  • No changes at the QB position: Natale and Lovelace are still sharing first team reps while DC Jefferson continues to work with the second team. Steve Shimko and Tom Savage are splitting time on the third team offense.
  • Anthony Davis' exile to the second team offense continues since reporting to camp over weight. In AD's freshman camp in 2007, he also reported overweight but quickly working himself into playing shape. Don't expect his stint on the second team to last long.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Following a seven game winning streak to close the 2008 season, a stellar recruiting class and a newly expanded stadium capable of holding 52,474 screaming fans, hopes are high entering the 2009 season. However, there are more then few questions to address between now and the September 7th opener against Cincinnati. Here are a few:

5. Which member of the most heralded recruiting class in Rutgers history will be the first to be an impact starter?

Mohamed Sanu showed promise and versatility in the spring game as a wide receiver. Darrell Givens has the chance to challenge immediately at the corner back position. Lock down defenders Logan Ryan and Abdul Smith should also receive plenty of reps during camp. At tight end, both Paul Carrezola and Malcolm Bush have a shot to challenge hybrid WR/TE Shamar Graves for playing time. And then there's that Savage guy...

4. How quickly will the quarterback situation be sorted out?

After three seasons as a starter and team leader, Mike Teel has departed for the NFL. Coach Schiano said on Monday that he needs a QB capable of "managing" the offense likely in much the same way that Teel did during his sophomore campaign in 2006. While 5th year seniors Dom Natale and Jabu Lovelace have both the maturity to lead this team, they combined for a mere 11 pass attempts in 2008. The three other quarterbacks on the roster have a total of zero minutes of experience playing at the college level.

3. Does this offensive line have the potential to be the best ever at Rutgers?

There have been plenty comparisons already between this squad (Ranked # 8 in Phil Steele's College Football Preview) and the squad which allowed only 8 sacs during the 2006 season. Ryan Blaszczyk is the anchor at center. Anthony Davis is the star and Art Forst, the "human eclipse" is the star in waiting. Only time will tell and barring injury, the 2009 0-line should pave the way for the running game and produce similar results to the '06 edition.

2. Just how good is this defense?

Like the O-line, there have been many comparisons made to the 11 win team from three years ago. However, there is one key difference between this squad and the 2006 edition. This team has more talent and more depth at just about every position which will keep players fresh and rested through the long grind of the Big East season.

1. How will this team manage expectations?

Several media publications (excluding our own Big East Media who picked us to finish 5th) have picked Rutgers to win the conference and represent the Big East in a BCS Bowl Game. Perhaps the biggest challenge for coaches of top flight programs is managing the lofty expectations thrust upon the program each year by the media. Greg Schiano flipped a 1-5 start into seven consecutive wins following and finished the season by winning to bowl in come back fashion against NC State.

Monday, August 10, 2009


In a move that has been widely anticipated for the past week, Darrell Givens officially became a Scarlet Knight this afternoon as announced by the Rutgers Athletic Department and is immediately eligible to participate in practices when the team opens camp on Tuesday. The team also announced several other surprising personnel changes this afternoon:
  • OL Keith Newell has transferred to FCS Delaware State
  • DB Davon Smart has transferred to FCS Norfolk State
  • DE Gary Watts has given up football due to a reaggrevated knee injury
Promising red shirt freshman Marquis Hamm has given up football all together to pursue his degree. Coach Greg Schiano also announced that true freshman Paul Carrezola (TE) and Mohamad Sanu (WR) will be limited at the start of camp due to separate hamstring and mild head injuries suffered during summer workouts. Kordell Young who it was announced had reaggrevated a knee surgery from 2008, will be limited as well and is hoped to return to full contact for the second scheduled scrimmage.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Now that media day is behind us, and training camp begins next week (or today for West Virginia) we thought it was about time to release this year’s Big East Preview. Besides, you could probably use a break from the David Ortiz circus. On then, to the 2009 Big East Football Preview.

8. Louisville Cardinals – This may come as a shock to some people, but the Cardinals find themselves on the bottom of the pile this year. The departures of quarterbacks Hunter Cantwell and Matt Simms certainly leave a hole in the offense. The much maligned Steve Kragthorpe is on the hot seat. The University of Kentucky has even passed Louisville. The pressure is great and it’s entirely possible that they whole team could fold after a few early season losses. Don’t forget, this is the team that lost to Syracuse each of the past two seasons.

7. South Florida Bulls – This team may very well have the most talent in the Big East this year, returning All-American candidates Matt Grothe and George Selvie. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, they will fall victim to the same intangibles that have plagued them in years past. Head coach Jim Leavitt is not the right man to lead a major college football program trying to get to the next level. No one will argue the success that he has realized in building a program from scratch and getting it to this level. He is not the man to lead a program of this caliber, however. He lashes out at officials and the media. His rants are getting old, and more importantly, are teaching his players how to shirk responsibility. They have been in a downward spiral since their 2007 Sun Bowl appearance and will continue to slide as long as Leavitt captains the ship.

6. Syracuse Orange – Orange fans are excited for first year head coach Doug Marrone. They should be – Estelle Getty would have been an upgrade over the dreadful Greg Robinson. They also have a difficult non-conference schedule against some tough Big 10 teams early on. They will be battle-tested before they get into the heart of the conference schedule, but alas, this is not enough to propel the Orange into the top half of the Big East Standings.

5. Pittsburgh Panthers – Pros – Another solid recruitung class, Bill Stull, Pat Bostick, etc. etc. Cons – Dave Wannestedt. Any questions?

4. Cincinnati Bearcats – Bearcats fans should be excited this year for the team that Brian Kelly has assembled. Tony Pike and Marty Gilyard and definitely playmakers who can change the game with one play. The Bearcats are building a program, but may have peaked too early last year as evidenced by their performance at the Orange Bowl last year. This year should see them slip to the middle of the pack, but still on track.

3. Connecticut Huskies – The Huskies lose four players to the NFL (highlighted by 1st Round Selection Donald Brown) but will benefit from what is shaping up to be a down year in the Big East. Randy Edsall’s squad will easily earn another bowl berth.

2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights – How do you replace QB Mike Teel and NFL 1st Round Draft Pick Kenny Britt? You do it with a solid defense, great runnings backs, capable wide receivers and one of the best offensive lines in the country. While Kenny Britt leaves a large void, incoming freshman Mohamed Sanu may be able to fill it. The QB situation is not easy to fix with 5th year senior Dom Natale expected to be given a run for his money from incoming freshman Tom Savage, neither of whom has been tested at the college level. With enough talent surrounding them however, they may just have to play well enough “not to lose”. Yep, that and the weakest schecdule the Scarlet Knights have seen in over 30 years.

1. West Virginia Mountaineers - I know. I know. Replacing Pat White with anyone is like replacing Johnny Unitas with Troy Nunes. But Jarrett Brown has shown signs of gretaness and Noel Devine should provide plenty of offensive firepower. The Mountaineers toughest test this year will be the last two games of the season – at home for the Backyard Brawl on 11/27 and a trip to Piscatway on 12/5.


  • Greg Schiano will appear on NBC's Mike'd Up tomorrow night at 11:30PM. He'll sit down with Bruce Beck, who'll be filling in for Mike Francesca. One has to wonder if Schiano would still be scheduled to do the show if Francesca, a perennial Rutgers hater, was going to be around tomorrow.
  • Former Rutgers quarterback and fan favorite Ray Lucas returns to the radio this fall. He replaces Tim Pernetti (who is also becoming a fan favorite) as the colorman and will work alongside Chris Carlin. Last year, Lucas worked as a studio analyst for SNY.
  • The Big East did not land any teams in the Preseason USATody/Coaches Poll, although five teams received votes. The winner of the Cincinnati-Rutgers game is poised to crack the Top 25, if not the Top 20, as it is one of the most competitive games of the weekend.
  • Tom Savage is learning about New Jersey traffic patterns as well as the Rutgers playbook. His bid to supplant Dom Natale as the starting QB begins when camp opens this Tuesday.

Friday, August 7, 2009


For all intents and purposes, the highly controversial seven year football series between UConn and Notre Dame is dead. The deal, which did not provide any home games for the Huskies, has been rendered irrelevant with the signing of home and home deals with Michigan and Tenessee. The Big East's resurgence in recent years has been bolstered by the fact that the tradtional "Blue Blood Programs" are now willing to play in Big East stadiums. In addition to the UConn series' listed above, Rutgers has also inked deals with UCLA, Miami and Penn State. Sorry Charlie. Your program has lost its clout. The Scarlet Knights turned down a similar deal with the Irish in the Spring of 2008.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


According to Brendan Prunty and Tom Lucci of the Star Ledger, former PSU recruit Darrell Givens (CB) of Indian Head, MD has not yet been cleared to enroll at Rutgers as previously reported on While it is not entirely clear why Givens, a four star recruit according to, was denied admissions to PSU, it appears that he has selected Rutgers over his two other primary suitors, South Carolina and UNC.