As a Rutgers sports fan, you never really know what you’re going to get. If there’s anything I learned in my four years here (and I promise it’s not the only thing I learned), it’s that Rutgers has a way of keeping your life interesting — and its sports programs are no exception. These are true Jersey teams, strong and capable, but always the underdog.
In 2015, Rutgers was as heavy on controversy as it was on success.
Here’s a look back at New Jersey’s favorite teams throughout the year, with a humble reminder that although we’re very short here on professional sports teams, we should all just be thankful that Rutgers gives us a horse in the race somewhere.
5) Rutgers Football cleans house, fires Head Coach Kyle Flood and seven assistant coaches — and Athletic Director Julie Hermann gets the boot too
After a 4-8 season that saw not only multiple players facing suspensions, but a three-game suspension for Head Coach Kyle Flood (for violating Rutgers policy that prohibits coaches from getting involved in players’ academic lives), the Scarlet Knights are under new management, so to speak. Not only was Coach Flood (pictured) let go, but seven assistant coaches met the same fate, and even Athletic Director Julie Hermann wasn’t safe.
Now, the multi-million dollar football program, which many consider to be the face of the university, will be led by Chris Ash (formerly Ohio State’s defensive coordinator) and a staff of his choosing. Here’s hoping this is the first step towards a new era for the RU football program.
4) Rutgers men’s soccer team makes it to NCAA tournament in its first winning season in the past 4 years
After years of struggling to find a winning rhythm on the field, the Rutgers men’s soccer team finally had the type of season that makes the future look a bit brighter. Though the Scarlet Knights got off to a slow start (and were seemingly set to continue the vicious cycle of the last four seasons), they hit their stride mid-season and continued their successful crusade right to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a shootout win against Long Island University – Brooklyn on November 19.
3) Rutgers Wrestling beats No. 4 Nebraska
The No. 11 Rutgers wrestling team notched its first home-crowd Big Ten win in a stupendous upset over No. 4 Nebraska at the Rutgers Athletic Center on December 12. In an effort that included individual upsets in three separate weight classes and ended in a 16-16 tie, with Rutgers winning 17-16 after use of the tie-break criteria which considers overall points scored, Rutgers not only earned a victory, but the respect of a conference that still considers them to be the new kids in town.
2) Rutgers football team stages an incredible comeback versus Indiana
During a season when players’ off-the-field activities were getting more attention than their game-time efforts, the Rutgers football team overcame a 25-point deficit (to tie the school comeback record) in the third quarter to beat Indiana in front of their opponent’s home crowd. Each one of Rutgers’ unanswered 28 points seemed to push all of the negativity of the season further from the minds of both the team and fans alike.
1. Rutgers women’s soccer team upsets No. 1 Virginia to make it to the Final Four for the 1st time in program history
Under the skilled tutelage of Head Coach Mike O’Neill, the women’s team culminated its winningest season yet by triumphing over the No. 1 seeded Virginia in a true nailbiter. Scoreless at the final whistle, the Rutgers’ women overtook Virginia 7-6 after nine rounds of penalty kicks, earning a place in the 2015 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament College Cup for the first time ever.
Thanks for a 2015 full of jaw-dropping moments, Scarlet Knights. Here’s looking ahead to a bigger and brighter 2016!
Hero (Top) Feature Image:Facebook/Rutgers University
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Rutgers Football / Facebook
Facebook / Rutgers Men’s Soccer
Rutgers Wrestling / Facebook
Facebook / Rutgers Football
Rutgers Women’s Soccer / Facebook