Late in the evening of Nov. 9, many Philadelphians complained about a loud, sudden noise.
It wasn’t a fight or a domestic dispute, just a bunch of rowdy college kids excited over a big football win. But the game was played an hour away.
But the aftermath from then-undefeated
and No. 15 Rutgers’ victory over then-No. 3 Louisville will be felt in the Delaware Valley for quite some time.
Rewind to 1999. At the conclusion of their respective seasons, Temple and Rutgers sat side-by-side in the basement of the Big East conference.
Rutgers, at 1-10 overall, found itself dead last in the conference, its lone victory coming in an upset of conference rival Syracuse.
Temple, at 2-9, might have had an identical
record if not for its 56-28 homecoming win against those Scarlet Knights.
The next season, Rutgers enlisted former
Miami defensive coordinator Greg Schiano
to rebuild a program that was heading nowhere. Fast.
Six years later, Temple sought Virginia’s Al Golden to do the same.
However, with Schiano’s recent success and Rutgers’ arrival not only on the map of college football but as a face in a resurfacing conference, Golden’s job just became much more difficult.
Because of their closeness in proximity, both the Owls and the Scarlet Knights recruit in the same area. Nearly 75 percent of both teams’ rosters are amassed of New Jersey and Pennsylvania natives.
Key players such as Rutgers’ quarterback
Mike Teel and defensive lineman Ramel Meekins and Temple’s wideout Bruce Francis and quarterback Vaughn Charlton call the Delaware Valley area home.
Coach Al Golden has previously stated that his recruiting area of preference is between Boston and Virginia, and the numbers speak for themselves.
At the beginning of this season Schiano’s
future was in question, despite the steady improvement of the program.
“We’re building a program,” Schiano said earlier this season. “It’s not about a year. It’s about building a program, and going to that pinnacle we talked about when we first got here. This is a step in the climb.”
And climb is what the Scarlet Knights have done this season.
This past weekend, with their victory over Syracuse, Rutgers earned a spot in the Big East Championship Game against West Virginia and is one win away from earning the conference’s Bowl Championship Series bid.
Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice has led the way, totaling over nearly 1,500 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on the year.
Among the Owls, who finished the season
1-11 and have a record of 4-42 in their last four campaigns, there is a sense of optimism surrounding the rebounding program.
Their lone victory of the year, against Bowling Green, snapped one of the longest losing streaks in college football history at 20 games.
Golden has gone away from the “band-aid” junior college approach Bobby Wallace relied on, and decided to let his younger players gain experience early with hopes of them maturing into college level football players faster.
He has found some players in quarterbacks
Adam DiMichele and Charlton that will push each other to compete for the starting job and a young and productive receiving tandem in Francis and Travis Shelton.
The question remains whether Golden can fend off the surging Rutgers program in the important recruiting game long enough to write his own Cinderella story.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.