Rutgers Arrives

It has been a long time coming. Twenty-seven years worth of waiting. With the clock finally ticking down to zero, it seemed like nearly three decades worth of what appeared like a hopeless wait had vanished into a magical, almost Disney-like welcome. Greeted by an abundance of yellow clad Insight Bowl committee members, the Scarlet Knights magical trip to Bowl-dom was officially underway.

"It was back in '91 or '92 when we met with Mike Tranghese and the former Athletic Director of Pitt," began an earnest and obviously joyous John Junker, Executive Director of the Insight Bowl. The topic was in regards to the obvious lovefest the Insight Committee had with Rutgers, and its initial origins.

"We were all together at Newark airport that day and it was that day when we told our people that the one university that we we wanted most of all in one of our Bowl games was Rutgers."

That's right, as early as the early '90's committee members across the country were infact pulling for the Scarlet Knight program to awaken from its dormant state. Long viewed as a potentially huge draw from the largest media market in the world John Junker and his staff were certain they would have a great chance at landing the no-longer dormant program this year.

"We knew that the people of New Jersey and the people of New York are proud people and they've been waiting for a winner. And we're just grateful to have Rutgers in our Bowl game," continued the Executive Director of the Insight Bowl.

"I knew that when Rutgers finally did get to a Bowl game, we had to try to get them. The story of them finally making it was too good to pass up."

Certainly, long-term trends are long-term for a good reason. And they can't be changed in one season.

But this is a start, a beginning of sorts for the New Jersey based program. And the following and support expected for next week's game was a major reason why Rutgers was extended the invitation to begin with.

"Rutgers will be our strongest traveler from the east, by far," stated Junker.

Really? By far??

"Oh yes, it's just off the charts."

That includes perenially excellent travelers such as West Virginia, as well as other eastern teams including Syracuse, Pittsburgh Virginia Tech, and Boston College.

Attendance has not been an issue for the Insight Bowl. This will continue to be a non-issue this year, with the home-state Sun Devils expected to bring more than their share of fans with them. Rutgers is expected to draw between 7,000-7,500 as of Wednesday evening's latest estimates. The game, selling 98% of the available tickets since it was first born as the Copper Bowl in the late 1980's is expected to sell out once again this year.

And the draw, as the Insight Bowl committee sees is, is due to the resurgence of an eastern football program left for dead nearly a half decade ago.

"You really can't find better people than Coach Schiano and Rutgers Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy. We have a great relationship with Rutgers and the entire Big East and the reason is due to the great people they have there," said Junker.

"For us to have the opportunity to be a host to Rutgers first Bowl game in such a long time, it's so special for us and a great honor."

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News and Notes
"Our whole university and our entire football program, we are just all thrilled to be here," stated Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano immediately after Rutgers' charter had landed at Sky Harbor International.

The warm welcome, with what seemed like hundreds of Insight Bowl Committee members personally greeting every single player on the Rutgers Football team, could be described in only one word:

Special.

With a rolled out red carpet awaiting the Scarlet Knights as they first stepped on to Arizona soil to the tens of cameras and media frenzy was something the seniors of this team, those here from day one, will cherish for a lifetime.

"One of the best moments I've had as a Head Coach," continued Schiano, "was seeing our guys walking through that tunnel of people."

Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano at the podium, answering questions immediately after the Scarlet Knights' arrival at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the 2005 Insight Bowl.

 

Rutgers Sr. FB Ish Medley looking sharp.

 

Rutgers Sr. DL Ryan Neill being greeted upon arrival.

 

Please send any comments to Matei -- mgeorge@rutgersfootball.com. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss any aspect of Rutgers athletics with other Rutgers fans, please visit our message boards.


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