After Christmas day with the family, it was off to Newark Airport. I arrived in Phoenix just before midnight and woke up this morning to a typical December day in the Arizona.
People were getting their swimming pools ready. Homeowners were viewing the orange trees on their lawn - trying to spot the oranges just ripe enough for breakfast. In the background rose the brown and tan desert mountains that ring Phoenix but extend a rocky wall between Scottsdale - where I'm staying - and Phoenix, the biggest city in the southwest.
Downtown Scottsdale is beautiful. Like much of Arizona, it is a city of adobe modern buildings, palm trees and flowers. But Scottsdale is more. Architectural care was taken to meld typical desert motifs into a collage of southwestern beauty that has to be seen to be appreciated.
But amidst the endless variations of sand and pueblo browns, a new color is appearing everywhere.
In hotels, in lobbies, in restaurants, on sidewalks and throughout the town, fans wearing bright red shirts with "Rutgers Football" written in white have descended on the southwest to cheer on the Knights.
At the morning press conference I asked Bob Mulcahy how many had come. "Over 7,000", he noted.
Rutgers fans came thousands of miles for the game but for some it meant more than others.
Marty Mayes was a defensive lineman who played from '86 to '90. He was a team captain in 1990. "I had to come," Mayes said. "After 27 years I had to come. We played at the old stadium, we had no meeting rooms, we had to watch films in the old locker room. I would love to run out there in that new stadium."
For Mayes seeing the team come this far means a lot for a couple of reasons.
"I want to get here early so that I can take everything in. I really want a win. Getting here was one thing, but a win would be another thing. I'm also here for Schiano. Nobody really knows how far it has all come, nobody knows that better than me. Greg was a graduate assistant, when I was there. He's brought us a long ways. I came for him."
Coach Schiano has been appreciative of the support given to him and the team. One night he took the team out for dinner. Rutgers fans had heard about the location and showed up to show support for the team.
"It was great to see that support", he said.
News and Notes
After some bouts with the flu, ASU is fit and hardly with all players recovered and fit.
On the Rutgers side, their is only one afflicted. Coach Schiano is recovering from the "sniffles."
Coach Koetter did know what to make of the Rutgers front four. "From the tape of the Cincinnati game, they looked like four NFL prospects, but you don't know if Cincinnati stinks."
Coach Schiano gave a hint of the game plan. "We are not going to get into a shooting match with them. 'Controlling the ball' may be a cliche, but sometimes cliches hang around for a reason."