Rutgers fans see Schiano's vision in historic victory
Posted: Friday November 10, 2006 1:55AM; Updated: Saturday November 11, 2006 4:50PM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Greg Schiano preached and pleaded and spread his vision for Rutgers football to anyone who would listen. He threw around the catch phrases "State of Rutgers" and "national power" and never swayed from his belief -- even when the Scarlet Knights were losing to Miami 61-0. But even the perpetually upbeat coach couldn't have imagined this.
Rutgers as the center of the college football universe, under the lights on national television in a red-clad atmosphere that rivaled any in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12. The Empire State building was lit up in scarlet, fans arrived eight, 10 hours early for Rutgers' showdown with No. 3 Louisville, and the team that was once the laughingstock of college football played like it belonged.
"I don't usually do this, but right before kickoff I took off my headset, looked around and said, 'Wow, this is really something,'" Schiano said after his team's improbable 28-25 victory on Jeremy Ito's 28-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining. "It's everything you could ever hope for in a college football game. The atmosphere, you just knew it would be, you just didn't know when."
It finally happened on Thursday night. At 11:05 p.m. ET, students stormed the field from all directions, creating one giant mosh pit as Kool and the Gang's Celebration blared from the stadium's sound system. At midfield stood sophomore quarterback Mike Teel, basking in the glory and accepting congratulations from many of the same fans who were calling for his head less than a week ago. Behind Teel was his father, Mike Sr., reduced to tears by what he just witnessed.
"You had to be here to understand how far down this program was," said Mike Sr., a Jersey guy through and through. "This is all because of coach Schiano. He had a vision and three quarters of the people in this state thought he was crazy. Heck, at first I wasn't sure if I believed him. But the kids always believed and bought into everything. And look at this, it's everything this program could be and should be."