Rutgers Clinches Winning Season

It was a historic afternoon at Rutgers Stadium as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Navy Midshipmen 31-21, guaranteeing the first winning season for the program since George Bush the first reigned as president.

Yogi Berra was on hand to do the coin toss. In the blue and yellow lots, contestants for the spring season of the hit television series "The Apprentice", were hawking Bloomin' Onions to students and alumni. Former NFL players, bowl representatives and at least one NFL scout (from the Atlanta Falcons) were in attendance. The second largest crowd at Rutgers Stadium was on hand and in what seems to have become somewhat of a tradition, the huge student section stormed the field to celebrate the accomplishment with the players and coaches.

Given all of this, Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano seemed subdued. When asked how he felt about the victory he merely replied "It feels good. I'm real happy for our players, and our coaches. For [Athletic Director] Bob Mulcahy, and the whole university. People have put so much time and effort into it."

Part of the reason may be the timing of this important victory. The Knights still have three opponents to play, excluding a bowl game and Schiano is very aware of the possibility of getting overexcited after a win like this.

"It's great. But it's a stop. It's something to enjoy for the day. I really think this is a football team that is getting better everyday. This is not what we set out to do. It's one of the stops, but it's not the ultimate."

So is he afraid that the players will become complacent now that this important milestone has been passed? Probably not, but he does realize that winning can sometimes go to a player's head.

"It's going to be hard now. It's a whole other set of challenges. A little prosperity, you've got to deal with it like a little bit of adversity."

In the past the players have had trouble staying focused Schiano implied, but now he has them playing with a level head.

"What we've gotten away from is the peaks and valleys", he said. "They get excited, but it's not where they are living four or five plays in the past. Quite frankly, when you're better, it's probably easier to do that because you know you can come back and make up for it."

Referring to what now seems to be the team's favorite metaphor he added, "I believe that if we can just keep chopping away and preparing and working and keeping the focus we can win."

But in the end, even Coach Schiano couldn't escape the jubilation that was going on around him. Instead, he simply stood on the sidelines and took it in, fully aware of the magnitude of the win and the changes that winning had made to the culture at Rutgers.

"When we came here four years ago, one of things we wanted to do was build some pride in the State of New Jersey and Rutgers University. We're not there yet, but we've sure made progress. It's neat to stand there and watch all that going on out."

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