2008 Senior Day for Rutgers

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Before 2007's finale against Louisville, the Rutgers football program already knew that the International Bowl had invited it as a participant. This year's rematch at Rutgers Stadium has indicated two possibilities: Win and earn another a bowl bid at 7-5 or lose and face the brink with a 6-6 record.

Never, I'm going to be honest with our guys," said head coach Greg Schiano said of informing his team of the bowl bid before the final game of last season. "The one thing they appreciate is that I tell it the way it is, whether it's what they want to hear or not.

"Whether it's collectively as a team or individually in their performance, I'm going to give them my best assessment."

Storming out to a 21-3 lead after 15 minutes, Rutgers was maintaining the 18-point margin midway through the third quarter. However, the Cardinals scored the final 21 points, earning a 41-38 upset.

Two years ago, Louisville visited Piscataway with hopes of washing away the Scarlet Knights' unblemished agenda. Former placekicker Jeremy Ito's game-winning field goal gave Rutgers the 28-25 decision, in what was deemed ‘Pandemonium in Piscataway.'

For the second time this season, Rutgers will host an opponent on the national stage (Thursday night on ESPN at 7:30), as it enters senior day on a five-game winning streak, while four straight losses have dimmed Louisville's outlook.

Schiano discussed the players' emotions, which will ride high for several graduating seniors, including starters QB Mike Teel, FS Courtney Greene, DT Pete Tverdov, P Jeremy Branch, TE Kevin Brock, OT/OG Mike Gilmartin, LB Kevin Malast, CB Jason McCourty and DE Jamaal Westerman.

"I'm more inclined to think about it as a senior day, last home game at Rutgers Stadium, after everything this group has done together," he said. "I don't want anyone to live with regret because they were too emotional about it and made the game go haywire.

"As far as last year, I don't think last year has anything to do with this year. Unfortunately for us, last year we didn't play the way we needed to win that game in the end. But that's last year."

When asked to recall memories about the senior class, Schiano responded, "Oh, that's probably a better question for (entertaining) at the end of the season."

Schiano said he considers reflecting ‘dangerous' to avoid letting emotions get the best of his team.

"Yeah, as I've told you guys every year-- I think it's dangerous to start getting into that talk," he said. "And I encourage you guys not to go there, but I'm sure you have to because it's your obligation. I think it's dangerous for players to start reflecting when you have a game to play.

"You take your eyes off the prize. Sometimes, I've seen guys get too emotional for their final game, and then the only emotion they'll have for the rest of their life is regret, because they didn't play well in their final game. So we try to encourage the guys to keep it into the game at hand and I'm going to try to follow suit."

If Schiano were scheduling this contest, it would have taken place on a more traditional college football platform.

"I do like playing on Saturdays. If I had my druthers you'd play 1 o'clock on Saturday — to me that's college football," he said.

But Schiano, a longtime coach, understands the nature of the beast, so to speak, in terms of exposure and recruiting.

"But that has changed with primetime coverage and all those things," he said. "So I don't really get too caught up into it. I think we need to get exposure for our program, like any program, so the more you get on national television, the better."


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