Classless Rutgers Student Section

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The Wade Level
The Star-Ledger
Obscene fans at Rutgers draw a penalty flag
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The play came late in the game, when Rutgers expanded its lead over Navy to a comfortable level after a tight three quarters.

Navy's Reggie Campbell took the kickoff and ran full speed ahead up the middle with all the force his 168-pound body could generate. Campbell, almost always the smallest and fastest man on the field, hit a wall of XXXL-sized scarlet jerseys and was slammed to the ground at the bottom of the pile. He got up slowly, limping off. This gutsy kid, a slotback who already spent three quarters being chased and tackled by gangs of defensive linemen and linebackers, all weighing at least 100 pounds more than him, was then given a dose of Rutgers' student section class.

''You got f---ed up. You got f---ed up. You got f--ed-up," they chanted.

Reggie Campbell is a senior. After graduation in June he has a five-year commitment to the American military, which, like it or not, is at war.

"This is how you treat people who may die for this country?" said Bill Squires, an Annapolis graduate (Class of'75) who was on the sidelines for the Friday night game in Piscataway and was shocked by the obscene chants directed at the Navy players and fans throughout the game. "It was the most classless thing I've seen."

Navy was booed and peppered with "You suck!" chants when they stepped on the field for both halves. Toward the end of the second half, Rutgers students in the new bleacher section began to serenade the adjacent section of Navy fans and uniformed Midshipmen.

''F--- you, Navy. F---you, Navy. F--- you, Navy."

"There were wives and small children up there," said Squires, an academic recruiter for the academy who has been to dozens of away games and never seen such contempt directed at his team. "Our Midshipmen reacted the way they were taught. They didn't respond, but the band started playing 'Anchors Aweigh' to drown them out. Me, I felt like going up there and smacking somebody. I was mad, and it bothered me all weekend."

Booing, cursing, chanting obscenities, unfortunately, are now part of the game day experience. It's easily been three decades since fans across the country in all sports began spending more time and creative energy jeering the visitors and officials than cheering the home team. Rutgers is far from the worst. They're not even the worst in New Jersey, not with the Jets' fans still in town. Still, every penalty against the Scarlet Knights is greeted with a chant of "a--hole, a--hole, a--hole."

And now that Rutgers is winning, the long-suffering, self-effacing adult fans are being drowned out by a new generation of weight-room bully boys in scarlet T-shirts and red face-paint, who, from the safety of their seats, belittle the guys down on the field who take the hits.

Now that Rutgers is big-time, the old-time academic- and adult-minded fans are being elbowed aside by gangs of frat boys thrusting their fists and faces into the rolling ESPN cameras. What was it your old football coach used to say? Act like you've been there before. Not in the RU student section.

"At one point, I thought, we defend this country for people like this?" said Squires, who lives in West Orange. "I wasn't embarassed as a New Jerseyan. I was embarassed as a human being."

It was so noticeable that Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy called down to Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk yesterday to make sure there were no hard feelings, according to John Wooding, an assistant AD at Rutgers.

Some will excuse the behavior as kids just being kids, out to have a loutish, drunken good time. Spewing obscenities at the visiting team is just part of the fun.

But you'd hope our Jersey kids would be smart enough to make an exception for the service academies, especially the weekend before the anniversary of Sept. 11, their generation's own Day of Infamy. You'd hope they'd be sensitive enough to realize that some of those Midshipmen may soon be among the young American men and women fighting and bleeding and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Young Americans, the same age as those safe in the stands watching a football game with their faces and bodies painted red.

At the very least, you'd think the Rutgers students would have some appreciation for the effort the undersize Navy players put out. They aren't like the players from Louisville or West Virginia or some of the other ranked powerhouses Rutgers now finds itself among. They are what Rutgers was not so many years ago. Students first, athletes second. Except better.

The new Rutgers is a big-time football school, with all the hype and manufactured drama. Coach Greg Schiano leads his team through pregame Scarlet Walk, chest out, stomach in, looking every bit the general except without gold braids, epaulets and a full rack of medals. The band plays. The cheerleaders and dance team girls wave pompoms. The conquering heroes go past, eyes front. At game time, the scoreboard TV shows the team coming down the tunnel to a soundtrack from Armageddon. An Army helicopter chop-chops overhead (your tax dollars at work).

Football has always marched to a militaristic or tribal drum beat, to whip up players to greater levels of violence. The game is always likened to war by coaches, players, announcers and writers who haven't been to war.

But to Reggie Campbell and his Navy teammates, Friday night's game wasn't war. It was a game. War is around the bend.

They deserved better.

And that red on the faces of some Rutgers' fans wasn't body paint

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Wait till Louisville whips them up and down the field in November. Just another program with no class and a catchy "chopping wood" gesture for motivation.

Well at least they can win a few at home.
Wait till Louisville whips them up and down the field in November. Just another program with no class and a catchy "chopping wood" gesture for motivation.

Well at least they can win a few at home.

While I think Louisville is better, do you think they have the "D" to "whip" them. I think it will be a good game. But they should respect the service academy.:naughty:
Love what Louisville has done with thier football program bt like 22 said, thier defense has been God awful so far this year. Going to need to shore things up to beat the likes of Rutgers & WV although I think UofL is the better of the three out for South Florida in the Big East!
We'll see if the 'Ville can muster a "D" this weekend v. far against WEAK competition, things don't look promising.