Varsity Tailgate: On Week 3 and why Rutgers is still in existence
Why are Rutgers athletics still in operation?
The football program has had one 10-win season in the last 38 years. The men’s basketball program has made the NCAA tournament once since 1991, a nearly impossible feat for a program that has always been a member of power conferences. On athletic merit alone, they deserve to be relegated to Division II.
But the embarrassment doesn't end on the field of play. Unfortunately, it gets far worse than what the scoreboard usually shows: Basketball coach Mike Rice chucking balls at his players. Rice and AD Tim Pernetti fired. The replacement AD promptly being accused of abuse. Apologies for fan behavior. The fall of Rutgers football icon Ray Rice. A flood of player arrests.
And now we have the latest embarrassment, courtesy of head football coach Kyle Flood.
It would be one thing if Rutgers was hanging banners through all of this—at least for the kind of people who will take some scandal as long as they’re overshadowed by trophies. But no one will quash their conscience in exchange for NIT berths and wins in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Maybe it’s time to wipe the whole athletic program off the map. Keep the successful women’s basketball team because they deserve it and because it will bother the Don Imus-types. But everything else? Start over from scratch. Make Eric LeGrand the AD and hope he can build it back to something worth rooting for. Because right now, the Rutgers brand is ruined.
Oh, right. Branding. They’ll need to change the Rutgers University name to something that isn’t so immediately associated with scandal, corruption and shame. Something that isn’t so toxic. Maybe they can go with the University of New Jersey.
Game of the Week
No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama -- 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Rebels are averaging a whopping 74.5 points per game so far this season. Sure, you can say that they’ve only played two games and that those games were against Fresno State and the University of Tennessee-Martin, but even if Alabama exacts revenge for 2014 and Ole Miss gets shut out in this game, they’ll still be averaging 49.6 points per game. Potent!
Another Game of the Week
No. 14 Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame -- 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Notre Dame redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer will make his first career start in the place of the injured Malik Zaire. It will be interesting to see if Notre Dame’s quarterbacks get better as they go down the depth chart as Ohio State’s did last year. You might want to add Irish third and fourth-string quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Montgomery VanGorder (yes, a real name!) to your Heisman watch lists just to be safe.
Cupcake of the Week
The Panthers are 2-24 under head coach Trent Miles. Now they get to travel all the way across the country to take on No. 12 Oregon, which will motivated to rebound after losing last week to Michigan State. So it’s no surprise Georgia State is a 44.5-point underdog. But don’t write them off completely. Sometimes cupcakes can be poisoned and nearly kill you. Just ask Auburn.
Rivalry Game of the Week
No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU - 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS
The Tigers lead the all-time series 27-21, but the Tigers won last year, 41-7. No doubt the Tigers will be motivated after last year’s whooping by the Tigers. I don’t really do predictions, but I’ll make an exception this week: the Tigers will win, dealing a major blow to the Tigers’ SEC West title hopes.
Mascot Fact of the Week
You can watch Mike The Tiger, LSU’s mascot, on TigerCam, a live webcam. This is not an option for Aubie, Auburn’s tiger mascot, because he is just a guy in a costume and it would be really creepy to watch him eat, shower and use the bathroom at his off-campus apartment. Auburn fans are pretty intense, though. An AubieCam would definitely get some hits. And it might even blow up on r/furry.
Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs
Cody Kessler, QB, USC: Kessler, who has 650 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions through two weeks, plays Stanford on Saturday night on ABC. Heisman contenders have to take advantage of their limited opportunities on primetime, national TV games—especially players on the West Coast who often play when East Coast voters have fallen asleep after busy days of watching the likes of Rutgers, Penn State and UConn. In fairness, that sounds exhausting.
Tailgate Tip of the Week
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Quote of the Week
“Look, I don’t have anything against Florida State. I think there has to be a school where people that can’t get into Florida can go to college, and so that’s why we have Florida State.” — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on an Iowa radio show.
Rubio graduated from Florida, but he initially attended Tarkio College in Missouri on a football scholarship. Tarkio College is not an institution of higher learning founded around the teachings of Jerry Tarkanian, unfortunately, but a small Presbyterian college that went out of business two years after Rubio attended. So it actually has the perfect resume to be on Florida’s non-conference schedule.
Stat of the Week
UTEP is allowing 58.5 points per game so far this season, worst in the nation. So this is what a football team looks like when its composed of players who weren't good enough to play at Texas.
Question of the Week
Tough to say. It’s hard to fathom how the marquee program in a heavily populated state that worships college football can’t find enough players to field a good team. My best guess is that recruits were worried AD Steve Patterson would force them to pay for tickets to appear at games.
Greatest Conference Ever of the Week
The MAC is flying high after Toledo went down to Arkansas last week and knocked off Bret Bielema’s band of karmic warriors. This after Bielema said the following about Ohio State’s schedule: “Ohio State has one game on the schedule against a ranked team, we have eight left on the schedule. To get through this conference, it’s unprecedented. Any argument (against the strength of the SEC) is complete nonsense.”
Poor Bielema. He had no idea that #MACtion speaks louder than words.
Worst Conference Ever of the Week
The Howard Bison of the MEAC lost 76-0 to Boston College last week, but it was far worse than that. After falling behind 41-0 in the first quarter and 62-0 at the half, the head coaches of each team agreed to play just 10-minute halves in the second half to cut down on the bloodshed. How does a coach motivate his team at halftime after cutting a deal like that? “Men, we didn’t come out of the gates as we had planned. But I believe in you. I believe you can’t make it more than 20 minutes against these guys without forever being shattered as human beings.”
Overall so far this season, the MEAC is 5-16. From MAC to MEAC. One letter changes so much.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
After a 14-point loss to rival Iowa last week, things aren’t looking great for Rhoads, who is now 30-47 in six-plus seasons at Iowa State. What’s worse, now the Cyclones have to face the powerhouse of MACtion that is Toledo—on the road.
It’s not all bad, though. If Rhoads gets canned, at least he’ll have free time to take his family to Wally World.
Player Name of the Week
Edgar Allan Poe, WR, Army
Poe was held without a catch in Army’s loss to UConn last week, but will look to rebound this week against Wake Forest. By the way, Poe is a French major at West Point. There’s a chance this kid could turn out to be a little dark and brooding.
Stone Cold Lock of the Week
If this kid has Ole Miss-Alabama tickets again this year, he won’t run on the field.