RU Homecoming needs new chant, same student support
As “The Birthplace of Football” and the newest member of the Big Ten conference, Rutgers University faithfully turns the campus scarlet and black with RU pride for its homecoming football game.
Events like the Homecoming Bed Races and the annual bonfire break up the semester and build suspense toward Saturday’s game every October.
This year the Scarlet Knights will compete against Purdue University, and it’s anticipated that High Point Solutions Stadium will be packed with students and alumni alike.
The tradition of homecoming games is widely known as the most celebrated day in college football: intended to unite students and alumni with a day of rallies and parades that establish a university’s sense of school spirit and pride.
While Rutgers competed against Princeton University in the first college football game in 1869, neither team can claim a significant part in pioneering the homecoming tradition. The tradition’s exact origins are debatable, but the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri and Baylor University all orchestrated their own homecoming celebrations in 1910.
The Scarlet Knights lack notable football game traditions during homecoming. There's no stealing of another team's mascot or painting another university's campus statue scarlet red. But what’s always consistent is support fans have for Rutgers. The Knights earned their first Big Ten win two years and broke a 16-game losing streak last weekend on the road against Illinois.
However, there is one tradition Rutgers’ student section is famous for: the infamous “F—ck Penn State” chant that rose to popularity with our introduction to the Big Ten. Students yell it loud and proud at every third down — even though we play Penn State no more than once a season.
No matter how silly it may seem, Scarlet Knight fans refuse to let it die.
Athletic Director Pat Hobbs, on the other hand, urges the student body to come up with something a little more creative and a little less offensive this homecoming weekend.
“There’s nothing but negativity associated with that chant, and we are hurting ourselves, our reputation and our ability to recruit when we chant that,” Hobbs said. “We should be a model, not something to cringe at, and that chant is something I cringe at.”
Not only does he believe it expresses inferiority to a rival that we should not feel, Hobbs said it’s “beneath us” and a poor representation of an otherwise exceptional institution, especially when recruits and families with young children are present.
This demographic is typically present at homecoming games, as it is a family- and alumni-centered event.
The notorious chant is shouted even when Rutgers isn’t competing against the Nittany Lions — a team that has beaten the Knights in all of their Big Ten matchups.
“As the new kids on the block in the Big Ten, we now have 13 rivals, so there’s no game that we shouldn’t get pumped up for,” Hobbs said. “I believe it is the best conference in the country because it focuses on academics as well as athletics, so we should come up with a chant that’s appropriate for anyone of our rivals that will also provide a fun environment for recruits, children and families at our games.”
Fellow teams in the Big Ten certainly get the idea as they’ve come up with unique chants and dances that leave out any hostility. The band for the Michigan Wolverines, for example, jam out to “Temptation” after their defense makes a third-down stop, followed by their infamous Hawaiian War chant.
Fans at the University of Wisconsin football games sing and dance to “Jump Around” at the end of every third quarter.
While Rutgers is home to a plethora of great football players, and entering the Big Ten was an accomplishment, the change has been a challenging adjustment as the University has lost most games against its Big Ten counterparts.
Losing may be discouraging for a school big on football, but Rutgers students never let a bad game affect their spirit for their team and university as a whole.
Hobbs said that spirit stands out to not only the football players but also to the alumni and families that come out for homecoming every year.
“I think despite some of the challenging scores that we’ve had, I never doubt that Rutgers students will show up,” Hobbs said. “They’re supportive and they realize that they play a huge role on game day and building up that excitement.”