Let’s start the next countdown now that the B1G celebration is over: Marking the days until the start of pre-season football camp on Aug. 1.
Until then, keep the questions coming. I’ll be around all summer to answer them when they start accumulating in my mailbox.
Here’s the latest Ask R Tom mailbag:
From Ed Bechold:
Where can we obtain full size flags to put on flag poles at tailgates and from our homes if we have a flag pole? Can’t find them on any sites. Thanks.
Tom: Try this link -- http://www.rutgersshop.com/search/flags. Not sure if this has exactly what you are looking for but there are a variety of Rutgers flags there.
From James Maguire:
With the Big Ten Network becoming available in all local cable providers, I've heard on a few occasions that many of RU's facilities are not able to be broadcast from in their present state. Can you talk about our various sports venues and give us an idea what exactly needs to be done? Thanks.
Tom: What I was told by the folks who know this best is that this is a two-phase project. The first phase will see High Point Solutions Stadium, the RAC and Yurcak Field upgraded for pre-wired readiness to make it better and easier for broadcast purposes. The work at HPSS and Yurcak is scheduled for completion Aug. 1, the RAC by Aug. 29.
Phase 2 will cover baseball, softball fields, field hockey, track and possibly the College Avenue Gym and Werblin Center. Those facilities will take a little longer to upgrade to make them broadcast-ready. Look for that work to be done sometime in 2015.
From Neil Feinberg:
Not a question, just a comment. I have read your informative articles for years, and always appreciate that you tell it like it is as opposed to some who seem to have an agenda against RU. Now that Rutgers is signing your paycheck, I realize you might have to be a bit muted, but hopefully, they hired you for your candor and the trust that you have built with the fan base. All the best in your (not so new) job.
Tom: I’ll do my best to inform and report as I did throughout my 35 years in the newspaper business. It’s not only that I work for Rutgers now. I’m a Rutgers graduate as well. So I’ve always been invested in the school. I may just have to temper my “enthusiasm” about things a little more now.
From Oliver Minguillon:
Coming from the industry, can you provide some perspective on the perceived bias from the local newspapers? I believe many fans are frustrated with the way Rutgers is unfairly criticized for stuff that may not be a big deal. I think we just want fair coverage.
Tom: I think there has been some excellent coverage locally leading up to Rutgers joining the Big Ten on July 1. Winning cures a lot of ills and reduces some of that perceived bias. You remember what it was like in 2006. It seemed like Rutgers could do no wrong for a long time. That’s not to say some media outlets have not been unfair. When I see that happening, I’ll call on my experience in the industry to point it out to those responsible (and I have already done so). But the great thing about the media in this area is the variety. If you don’t like a particular media outlet, ignore it. And for your football news, bookmark scarletknights.com.
From Dan Kosko:
Hi Tom! Does Rutgers offer any tours of the Hale Center and High Point Solutions Stadium? Thanks!
Tom: Rutgers currently does not offer tours of either facility but the school is working on the process and the cost. If and when tour information is available, we’ll let you know.
From Joe Martucci:
Hey Tom, love reading your articles and blogs. Question about game times: Did Rutgers have any say in the game times already scheduled this year and does Rutgers get the feeling that the later games will help increase attendance? The numerous 12 noon games we had this year surely led to a smaller student section from what I saw.
Tom: As you aware, kickoff times are almost always determined by TV now. That’s why you see so many games on schedules with no kickoff times yet. TV will decide those. There’s no question that the later starting games are better from an attendance standpoint. A lot of time with noon starts it seems as if people have just dragged themselves out of bed. That takes a lot of the fun out of tailgating too. But this is a TV-driven sport. So for the most part you start when TV wants you to start.
From Brett T. Schweiker:
Jamil Pollard was highly recruited coming out of high school. His path since graduation has been turbulent to say the least. Will he crack the defensive line rotation this year? Can you also handicap how good you see our defensive line being in 2014? I feel it is greatest strength of this team. Thanks.
Tom: At the end of the spring Pollard requested to be moved to the offensive line. So unless something changes between now and the start of pre-season camp he won’t be part of the defensive line mix. I spoke with defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, who said he intends to rotate eight or nine players along the defensive line this year. He has depth and intends to showcase it. The ends will be Djwany Mera, Quanzell Lambert and Julian Pinnix-Odrick, with Kemoko Turay used as a third-down pass rusher and David Milewski again playing end and tackle. Darius Hamilton, Kenneth Kirksey, Daryl Stephenson and Sebastian Joseph will man the tackle spots. On paper, that’s a solid, deep group.
From Ken Baron:
Whose idea was it for the block R concept?
Tom: If memory serves me – and I am going strictly on memory here – I think it was a collaborative effort between Dan Levy, formerly of the sports information office, and Greg Schiano. One of the first things Schiano did when he arrived was push for a university-wide symbol for Rutgers’ identity.
From Kevin Foth:
Now heading into the tradition-rich B1G, a mistake RU has made IMHO has been the uniform change. These new uniforms seem like such a gimmick. The top teams in B1G prove the uniform doesn’t matter in recruiting. Something off the wall is interesting once in a while for high-profile games, but to me it just doesn’t fit in the B1G to be wearing these full-time. What are the chances that we return to the traditional scarlet with the block R look that also just happens to align with our more successful seasons?
Tom: I think you’re in the minority on this one. Schools across the country – yes, even in the Big Ten – are going for different uniform looks all the time now. It seems like the uniforms Rutgers now has are very popular with players and recruits. I will tell you this: Reading the names on the back of the jerseys from a distance can be a challenge at times. But there are a lot of combinations Rutgers can get out of its current uniform design. If it makes you feel better, you could be a Maryland fan. No school has gone through more funky uniform designs than the Terps. They seem to have a new uniform every week.
From Michael Kmetz:
Rutgers had upgraded its football facilities to be able to compete in the Big East. How far behind are these facilities in comparison to Big Ten standards?
Tom: Tricky question. I’ll give it a shot. There’s really no way to compare the two leagues in football. The Big East had schools (Pitt, Temple, USF) playing in NFL stadiums. Big Ten schools are all on campus – and many of them reflect the passion for college football in the league. That’s why there are three stadiums of 100,000-plus in the B1G. These are also schools that have been football driven for quite a while. So they’ve all had a head start on Rutgers in terms of football facilities. But to get back to your question: I think there is always a desire to upgrade football facilities. You have to balance that, however, against being caught up in a facilities arms race. Rutgers’ current football facilities are solid; certainly they’re not a detriment to success.