The Scarlet Knights will kick off, albeit with heavy hearts, in Pittsburgh today as they line up against the Panthers. Pitt will have a very nice tribute to Rutgers' Eric LaGrand who was tragically paralyzed from the neck down last week vs. Army.
The temptation for Rutgers to say "win one for Eric" is strong but let johnny pass along a story from long ago. Johnny was on his high school team and as usual, the team had lost that Friday night. Johnny got a phone call early the next morning to learn one of his friends and teammates and a team captain had been killed by a drunk driver along with two other classmates. The team had an upcoming game vs. Byron, an undefeated team well on their way to the state playoffs in Michigan. Johnny's team was merely a speed bump in their path. After one of the most difficult weeks of practice mentally, including a funeral, the coaching staff told us something very very wise, which was rather unusual for them. They told us don't try and win one for Ed. Imagine the crushing feeling you'll have if you fall behind to this team and you'll think you're letting Ed down. They instead told us to play like Ed would have played. Play every down like you were Eddie V. Our team did that cold Byron night, played like Ed would have wanted. The final score that night is burned into Johnny's brain; Brandon 12 Byron 6.
Hopefully the Rutgers coaching staff will have a similar message to the Scarlet Knights today. Play hard like Eric LaGrand did. Play all afternoon like Eric LaGrand would have. Make no mistake, life does go on and this is an important game for Rutgers in league play. A great season is still possible but the road games next two weeks will tell that story.
Today we hope for a cathartic experience for the Rutgers team and Coach Greg Schiano.