Friday Night Writes - Saturday Style

Follow-up on the Season opener, and a reply to William Dowling's new book, Confessions of a Spoilsport.

Rutgers: 38 Buffalo: 3 A few thoughts on last night's game.

  1. Tiquan Underwood is fully healed from the leg injury that he suffered against West Virginia last season. As a matter of fact, it seems to have improved his play. Beyond the obvious reaction (did you see that!!!), he ran excellent routes and found seams in the defense with startling regularity.

  2. Tiquan Underwood needs a nickname. How about "The Knife" for the way he cuts up opposing defenses?

  3. The family of the McCourty twins wears Rutgers jerseys with number 21 on the back and 25 on the front.

  4. I'd like to see how well Jeremy Ito punts, but the Scarlet Knights had other plans. His only punting opportunity came in the third quarter, but Greg Schiano instead opted for a 56 yard field goal attempt that fell about 4 yards short and wide right. Ito also missed a 40 yarder, but did quite well on kickoffs from the 30 yard line.

  5. Beyond the school rushing yardage record that Ray Rice is expected to own next week, he has a realistic shot at several other school records. Last night's three scores moved him into a tie for fifth place with Harvey Grimsley (46-49) on the all-time rushing TD list. Six more will tie JJ Jennings. Three more 100-yard games will move him into a first place tie with Jennings for most 100-yard gam es. Maybe more importantly, Rice looked more comfortable receiving than he did last season.

  6. Kordell Young and Dennis Campbell did well on the return teams. Young's game-opening 56 yard kick return was an eye-opener. Too bad half the fans weren't yet in their seats to see it.

  7. The Defense was good enough to hold Buffalo to 3 points, but committed too many penalties and had too many missed assignments. They must get better if Rutgers is to defeat Cincinnati, South Florida or West Virginia.
  8. Damaso Munoz is not Devraun Thompson. He has a motor and good speed, but lacks the experience the middle of the Rutgers D enjoyed last year. Get well soon, Ryan D'Imperio.

Commentary: Spoilsport? That's Putting it mildly

Professor Dowling is back. Rutgers English Professor William Dowling has made a career out of rallying against the rise of big-time athletics at Rutgers. Fans of Rutgers football thought that his movement had died several years ago when Dowling's organization Rutgers 1000 disbanded, but they are mistaken. Like a Phoenix, Professor Dowling's movement has a new voice in his recently published book Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Hard Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University (Penn State University Press).

Recently InsideHigherEd. com interviewed Professor Dowling about Division 1-A athletics and Rutgers football. I have not read his book, but I felt a need to respond to the renewed attacks on Rutgers Football that he made in that interview. I have to start by saying that a University as large and diverse as Rutgers can certainly afford to have and respect many different viewpoints, but occasionally people cross a line of civility in expressing those viewpoints. I feel that Professor Dowling has crossed that line, and that he has sensationalized his attacks in order to sell his book.

Not everyone at Rutgers is a sports fan, and it is worthwhile discussing the effects that sports has on a University, but to lower himself to doing so through baseless, and insulting attacks is to shamefully demean his position as professor. Professor Dowling claims that there is a conspiracy between the Scarlet R Club and the Board of Governors. This is at best unsupportable. A voting majority of that board is appointed by the Governor of New Jersey and confirmed by the state Senate and the rest are selected by the Board of Trustees. Among their constituents are the NJ voters, the students, the faculty, and the alumni. For the most part, the majority of these groups have long supported Rutgers entry into Division 1-A athletics. Professor Dowling has long contended that there is a large group of people at Rutgers who oppose their participation in Division 1-A sports, yet that has never been reflected in the community at large. In fact, the Board of Governors is dominated by people who respect and support the will of the majority of students, faculty and alumni at Rutgers and of the citizens of New Jersey. This is as it should be.

Professor Dowling's crudest claim is that Rutgers President Richard McCormick's past infidelity and alcohol problems have contributed to the rise of Rutgers football. Without a shred of evidence, and without even the intellectual honesty to call President McCormick by name, Dowling claims that he was weakened by his past and unable to stand up to the Board of Governors in their supposed headlong rush into oblivion. This is a foolish and insulting claim at best. Professor Dowling attempts to dredge up dirt to smear the Board of Governors and the football team, but all he does is taint his own arguments.

Professor Dowling felt a need to defend himself right from the start. "The idea - completely erroneous, in my view, but incredibly powerful - is that anyone who values learning for its own sake is somehow trying to be "better than" people who are less well educated."

Unfortunately, Professor Dowling's attempt to become "just one of the guys" doesn't last long as he spends a lot of time challenging the class and intelligence of those who are less educated than himself. He doesn't think very highly of the Rutgers student body:

"Top New Jersey students have begun to avoid Rutgers in droves. The brightest students on campus are transferring out at an increased rate. Admissions standards are dropping. The school is now drawing students whose idea of "college" is drinking beer and painting their faces before football and basketball games."

It's too bad that the facts don't support any of this.

According to The Rutgers Office of Institutional Research, Rutgers mean combined SAT scores for freshman increased between 1995 and 2004 and remain above average Nationally. Every student wants to let their hair down and enjoy themselves when classes are done. Many of the best students enjoy taking an evening or Saturday to enjoy a sporting event. Even at the finest schools, students will drink beer and paint their faces before games.

Professor Dowling also has words about the athletes. Despite fact that the school and the NCAA work very hard to keep college athletics amateur, he claims that:

"As far as I can tell, Division I-A recruits are a pampered class of semi-professional athletes who, during their brief moment of celebrity, get almost everything an 18-22-year-old with fairly rudimentary desires could want: TV exposure, cars, girls, clothes, golden chains to hang around their necks."

Unfortunately Professor Dowling can't point to any facts to support this claim, so he clings to an undeserved reputation that is unfortunately quite common. At best, he can try to claim that all college athletes are Maurice Clarett, but those of us who have met gentlemen like Ray Rice, Brian Leonard and Mike Teel know otherwise. Professor Dowling also needs to get his facts straight. He uses the example of the "Walking Catfish", a species native to Southeast Asia that was accidentally released into the wild in Florida and became a nuisance as a parable to explain how good professors might walk to better schools. No, Professor Dowling, these catfish were never known to prey on "toddlers and small dogs and cats", only native marine species.

More to the point, Professor Dowling seem s to think that the phenomena of professors leaving Universities for more prestigious ones (or for better pay) is one more thing that he can blame solely on football, yet common sense would dictate that it has been going on ever since the second University opened their doors. Even Professor Dowling remains at Rutgers despite all the ills of which he speaks. Professor Dowling's Rutgers 1000 movement is a failure, yet he continues to feel a need to push his point past breaking. It is reasonable to have a serious debate about college athletics and their affect on the academic world of the University, yet Professor Dowling does nothing to seriously advance his position. His reliance on fallacy, innuendo and rumor does little but embarrass Rutgers.

Our Next Opponent: Our next opponent is Navy. will have every thing that you'd want to know about this match-up next week. Once again, Navy will be bringing their Option offense to the Banks. The Defense will need to be on their toes to slow down Navy, but the offense should have a good day once again. Magic_Al's Completely useless Prediction: Rutgers: 41, Navy: 21

Around the Big East The Big East's week of blow-outs started with two other Thursday night games. Louisville and Cincinnati both took on Ohio Valley Conference opponents and took no prisoners. Louisville racked up 655 yards of offense as they smothered Murray State 73-10. Cincinnati had a similarly easy time defeating Southeast Missouri State 59-3 in coach Brian Kelly's debut. Saturday's games will feature equally inspiring match-ups for the most part. Starting the day at 2:00PM, UConn travels to Durham to take on Duke. Duke has suffered 5 consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses, and doesn't appear to be any closer to improving. At 6:00, Pittsburgh will host Eastern Michigan who went 1-11 last season and is firmly entrenched in ESPN's Bottom Ten. At 7:05, South Florida takes on Division 1-AA Elon of the Southern Conference. At 3:30, West Virginia hosts the Mid-American Conference's Western Michigan Bronco's in the only potentially interesting game. Western Michigan is expected to lead the MAC this season under coach Bill Cubit (yes, the former Rutgers Offensive Coordinator). His son, QB Ryan Cubit (also formerly of RU) has graduated and is replaced by Junior Tim Hiller. West Virginia's explosive offense will have to contend with a defense that returns it's entire secondary, including standout safety Londen Fryar, the son of forme r Patriot receiver Irving Fryer. That game can be seen on ESPN360 or ESPN Gameplan.
The opinions in this article are those of the author alone. If you disagree, feel free to let him know on the message boards.

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