Living in the NYC area has some great advantages when it comes to sports, 2 of everything. Football, baseball, basketball and the other sport with that black thing. For the longest time the only college sports that ever got any recognition was basketball St. John's and Seton Hall had some good runs in the 80's and 90's. College football has hardly had a presence in the tri-state area so the all the talk about Rutgers has been refreshing as well as exciting to those who follow college football.
The Rutgers story last season was great one to watch. Their win over Louisville or "Pandemonium in Piscataway" as it is known as around here was a game for the ages. Greg Schiano has done some good things to put Rutgers on the map and there is no doubt that Rutgers will be solid team for the foreseeable future. That is on the field, off the field Rutgers went through the whole unfortunate Don Imus thing and many, but not all, thought that the Rutgers players and coaching staff did a great job at keeping their poise when they were thrown into a bad situation. There were some detractors but for the most part heaps of praise was pressed upon the institution and student body as a whole.
I'll come back to Rutgers in a moment.
I have always downplayed my service to my country. The eight years I spent in the Navy were invaluable to me in so many ways, it gave me a sense of direction and it taught me a level of discipline that was lacking in my life as an adolescent. The Navy taught me a trade that is directly responsible for doing what I do as a profession today. But in the end it was no big deal, I volunteered and accepted the risks of possibly going into harms way or having those who look negatively on the military look upon me with a disapproving eye. Don't kid yourself there are plenty of those who are not fans of the military regardless of what you may read or see in the media. I took every opportunity the Navy handed me, they paid me for it an I got the chance to see some great and interesting parts of the world. They Navy in return got me for 8 years no questions asked and the strain tat it placed on my first marriage were so great that, ultimately, that marriage failed. I wouldn't say that we were even if you kept score but we both got what we expected.
With that said I may have downplayed my time in the service but I am also certainly proud of that time that I spent in service of my country. With our country in two conflicts and with the country polarized as to whether or not we are on the right track I find it amazing that some would verbally abuse those who have chosen to step up and take the risks that come in defending our country in a time of war regardless of whether or not we agree with that war. That brings us back to Rutgers. I heard about the following incident from my neighbor who has season tickets to Rutgers football games. I was disgusted when I heard about it but I wasn't surprised as I had been through some of the same things early in enlistment in the Navy.
''You got f---ed up. You got f---ed up. You got f--ed-up," they chanted.
Reggie Campbell is a senior. After graduation in June he has a five-year commitment to the American military, which, like it or not, is at war.
"This is how you treat people who may die for this country?" said Bill Squires, an Annapolis graduate (Class of'75) who was on the sidelines for the Friday night game in Piscataway and was shocked by the obscene chants directed at the Navy players and fans throughout the game. "It was the most classless thing I've seen."
I don't expect to have people fall at my feet when they hear about my time in the service but I also wouldn't expect to hear some of the vile crap that was on display at Rutgers on Friday night. In his book A Civil War, John Feinstein shows us just how extraordinary the kids are. In all seriousness they do more by 8:00am than some of us will do all day. No opposing player deserves that sort of talk but it bothers me more that this small faction of students who, as a part of a bigger picture, and who supposedly handled the Imus incident with poise and restraint would stoop so low in disparaging a group of players who have made a conscious choice to possibly put themselves in harms way.
I am all for free speech but as I said in the past free speech doesn't give you the right to be heard. Rutgers football may be the next neat new thing on the college football landscape but their fans are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to showing respect for your opponent. It's funny that a group of fans can come together to show some respect in order to honor those lost on the campus of Blacksburg but the knuckleheads in Piscataway can't have the common decency to respect those who choose to defend their country.