This will be a little long, but that's kind of what I do, lol. Got an invite to go to the Rutgers Welcome Celebration in the Stadium Club after Coach Schiano's press conference and so I went. I have to say it was freakin' awesome - I'm ready to put the pads and helmet back on! The press conference opened with Barchi, then Governor Murphy, both saying the right things about how important top notch athletics, done the right way, are to a major State University, like ours, both athletically and academically (as a football fan and a pointy-headed academic I think both are important and a guy like Greg can manage both well - the B1G academic consortium has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to RU in serious research). I know Murphy isn't universally loved (it's politics), but it's far better for Rutgers to have the Governor of the State being a huge cheerleader for the team (who helped get this deal done - make no mistake about it) than to be a snarky Notre Dame fan, a la his predecessor. Then AD Pat Hobbs said some very nice things, which he kind of had to, as he was probably the biggest roadblock to hiring Greg in the first place - but at the end of the day, he should get some credit for listening to the tsunami of roaring Rutgers fans imploring him to bring the prodigal son back home, and getting it done along with Greg Brown and the BOG. And finally, Greg got up and knocked it out of the park with a speech that was so goddamned inspiring that he was getting applause from reporters/staff in the room and certainly from all of us. He talked about how only people from Jersey know what it's like to be from Jersey and how he intends to bridge the North-South divisions that have always been there (at least in athletics) and to restore the pride to Rutgers and New Jersey. He talked about how he knows, after being humbled a bit by his failure at Tampa Bay and being "just" an assistant at OSU, that his calling truly is coaching and molding young men into grown men in life and on the football field - about how seriously he takes the responsibility of helping to "finish the job" that the players' parents have entrusted him with. He talked about how amazing it was to see the outpouring of support and passion from the state's politicians, the big donors, the university, but most importantly, the every day fans, who simply want to have a football program they can be proud of again, both on and off the field. And that he and his staff will do everything it takes to bring the program back to where it was, to begin with, but to then take it to levels unseen here before, saying the goal is to win National Championships. He also acknowledged how far they have to go to get to that level, but with the great support he now has, he says it's an achievable goal. But he also retold the story behind "chopping" which most here know from Schiano 1.0, but it was important for him to retell, I think. I t was about when he was at Miami and they were 3-3 and a sports psychologist said it's like being lost in a huge dark forest, where you can either decide to curl up and die (i.e., get fired) or you can start chopping, one swing at a time, aiming that ax with laser focus on one spot and repeating that over and over until you've knocked some trees down and are eventually out of the forest. We're at the very start of that process, now, and while we might not see results right way, we'll eventually see them if we keep chopping. Great metaphor. As a fan, I'll be happy with respectable (4-5 wins) in a couple of years and then "good to very good" after that (6-9 regular season wins) and consider it gravy if we get to New Year's Day Bowls and Championship Playoff level someday - but listening to the guy speak makes you think he's not just blowing smoke. Finally, from a football perspective, I was very happy to hear him talk about installing an offense that would make teams defend the offense sideline to sideline across 53 1/3 yards, as well as down the entire field, meaning some version of a spread with a dual threat QB (since he commented on how much he hates having to defend that kind of offense as a defensive guy). And I was even happier to hear him talking about hiring a really good staff (one of the things he pushed hardest for and got was good salaries for his coaches) and then letting them do their jobs while he focused on his job - which he views now as a little more on the players and the team and less on X's and O's and all the little details of the program (which when he started, in 2001, we basically had no "program" so he had to focus on those elements back then, but not now). In the past he was criticized for micromanaging too much in practice and games and he seems to have taken that to heart and is more willing to trust his assistants with the gameplans and schemes. After all of this commentary and then the press conference part of things, Greg and much of the entourage (sans Murphy and Barchi) came upstairs to the stadium club and walked around pressing the flesh and posing for photos and making a couple more speeches. It was also cool to see so many former players who came back for today including Brian Leonard, Ray Rice, Ryan Hart, Anthony Davis, the McCourty Brothers and more, I'm sure. It was also great to see a bunch of old friends from the various Rutgers message boards and the games/bowls, such as @LeapinLou (thanks for inviting me to sit with your crew and sorry for not remembering your names - I suck at names - much better with numbers, lol), @RUNJ, @PiscatawayMike (and his brother,), Lou (TD club guy - can't recall the username). It was also cool last night seeing folks like @mkollar and some of the guys from TOS, like John Otterstedt, at the Olive Branch (so well run by the one and only @InGregITrust) - I know there was some bad blood with the split, but at the end of the day we're all Rutgers football fans and I'd like to think we can follow Greg's advice of the difficulties in getting here being water under the bridge and focusing on moving the program forward in the weeks, months and years ahead. Lastly, Greg told two funny stories. The first was how he and Christy, his wife, were planning on flying to Albany from Ohio earlier this fall to go to their twin sons' football game (at Williams College in Amherst), when Greg said, let's fly into Newark and take a spin around RU, since feelers were already out about his interest in the position. So, they come to campus, slightly in disguise (he had shades and a hat on, which he chuckled about - kind of reminded me of the Kyle Flood Princeton fiasco, but in a funny way, lol) and were stunned by how amazing the changes on both Livingston and College Ave looked (he hadn't been back in many years) and realized that he'd have an easier sell of Rutgers if he came back to coach with a more beautiful campus to attract players to. He also talked about how sad he had been over the years, watching what he had helped to build slowly falling apart and about how he kind of secretly remained a big RU fan for the last 8 years while he's been away (even if he couldn't really admit it publicly) - he'd be watching his kid's games, while checking the RU games from his phone and he started to realize that his heart was still at Rutgers and how he wanted to come back and finish the job he had started and made great progress on. It was a tour de force speech by Greg after hearing a series of great introductory speeches from the others and really made the case for how important athletics are to Rutgers and how important Rutgers is to New Jersey and how by rebuilding this program we can all share in the pride of that success and come along for the ride, as well as contributing, as fans, to the success of that ride. To quote Greg's favorite line from 2000 and now 2019, "It's Time."