Will Dave Brock leave for Delaware?
News-Journal reporter Kevin Tresolini has been reporting for days that Rutgers offensive coordinator Dave Brock was a leading candidate to be hired as the next head coach at Delaware. Today, Tresolini says that Brock is likely going to get that job, and rumors seem to be heading in that direction with the Delaware fan base for what that's worth. The timing's unfortunate, with a few options, like a Scott Loeffler, already off the market. Obviously, if Brock does leave, it's also a concern if there is any further staff attrition.
This blog has been a lynchpin for criticism of Brock during the past calendar year, given Rutgers ranking in at #104 in total offense during the 2004 season. Indeed, a close roster analysis is even more of an indictment, as the Scarlet Knights had pretty offensive talent this past year. In fact, what was so frustrating was that for the most part, the offense played well against the better teams on the schedule, with Virginia Tech being a notable exception. Where they struggled was against teams that Rutgers was heavily favored against. How do you say, show a pulse against Louisville, and look stuck in the mud when playing Tulane? Dave Brock has overseen some of the best Rutgers football offensive performances in recent memory, and some of the worst.
Let's be clear about this: Dave Brock is a competent football coach, and this site has never claimed otherwise. Former offensive coordinator (and Delaware assistant, for that matter) is the worst coordinator that I have ever seen at the college or pro level of football. The bulk of the criticism has stemmed from a perception of overtly conservative game planning, which admittedly is hard to determine whether that is coming from Brock, or head coach Kyle Flood. Brock was on hand for similar results at BC two years ago, but there were extenuating circumstances (he was the interim OC), and they had atrocious skill position talent. It's not completely implausible to suggest that Brock could be a successful head coach, especially considering that role may require different skills than coordinating an offense.
As many will point out, moving on to the team's fourth coordinator in as many seasons (and fifth in six) won't exactly do wonders for the offense's stability, although I think a bump was already bound to happen given that so many young players from last fall are returning, and there's a lot of budding talent on the roster. Still, even if unplanned, I think this is a positive move. For Kyle Flood's sake, he needs a marquee offensive coordinator to help ensure continued success at Rutgers. Look at Dabo Swinney - nobody thought that he was qualified to be anything more than an interim coach at Clemson, but finding Chad Morris, and then paying to keep him, helped silence all the doubters and the critics. Obviously, my preference is for a bigger name, with the mercenary-ish hire of Frank Cignetti two years ago being an ideal model. It was purely a business relationship, but both sides needed each other to be successful, and you can't argue with the results.
Cignetti rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, which lead to a lot of initial internal and media support for Brock, but no one can really argue with comparing their seasons now. Yes, more goes into an offense then just who is calling plays, but arguably Brock had a lot more to work with, to worse results. I want that mercenary figure, for two reasons. If Flood was the cause of the offense being too conservative, then a more independent figure will be coaching to win games more than to be loyal to his boss. Another big factor is that you need a guy with the credibility to work Gary Nova's tail off. I know Nova can be successful, and I expect him to be next year. The chances are a lot better if he's getting direction from a coach with a proven record of success, who can point to past pupils who went on to bigger things to help get Nova to buy in and work to get better. Everyone can agree that developing Gary to be more like the efficient gunslinger he's shown glimpses of being rather than the rattled guy who forces throws is job #1 for the 2013 season.
The below list of course is 100% pure speculation, based on a number of factors. We know from experience that candidates with ties to New Jersey and the surrounding region are more likely to be interested in the job to begin with. Rutgers of course has some difficulty competing with the NFL and perennial college football powers for candidates, but with some situations you'd assume that it would be worth at least doing some requisite due diligence. The pool for options you would think would largely come from out of work college coordinators, possibly NFL position coaches that were just let go (which isn't always due to their own faults), and promotions from mid-major programs. Hires clearly can come out of left field too, whether it's just whoever's available on the market, or whether a coach has ties to a surprising candidate. For example, Syracuse hired George McDonald who had worked with Scott Shafer several years back, although Rutgers largely went that route last year with Kyle Flood tapping his Delaware and Hofstra connections.
Regardless, here are the people who come to mind on first glance, although it's highly likely that this is missing someone who should be obvious. That being said, let's look at who in theory might be available.
Makes some degree of sense on paper
John McNulty - Let's be clear. There is no realistic expectation that Rutgers can bring back McNulty now, although they've tried in the past. It would be an utter shock if McNulty doesn't replace P.J. Fleck as Greg Schiano's receivers coach in Tampa (or even quarterbacks to replace Ron Turner.) If for some reason that doesn't happen, he won't have any trouble finding work in the NFL, or in a top college gig. Still, McNulty is fondly remembered around these parts for running a productive, pro-style (which is important, as the last thing Rutgers needs right now is a schematic change, and you'd think Flood would have to be wary of the spread.) offense for multiple seasons on the banks. He's the first guy you call. McNulty probably says no, but he would at least hear you out for a few minutes, given his ties to Rutgers, and relationship with Kyle Flood. (McNulty reportedly considered going to the University of Miami in late 2008, but the story was that he was apprehensive about having Jeff Stoutland as OL coach instead of Flood. Since then, Stoutland's stock has been rehabilitated in Alabama, while Flood's fell for a while.)
Norries Wilson - The better internal option. Actually an intriguing choice because he was the offensive coordinator at UConn during the Dan Orlovsky years, which was the only time they had a passing game outside of the brief Cody Endres era. You wonder how much of that was due to Orlovsky (they tanked in his final season before leaving for Columbia.) The idea of an internal promotion is not appealing, but he's a better choice than Rob Spence.
Rob Spence - Spence, the current quarterbacks coach at Rutgers, would be the path of least resistance given his ties to Flood, and experience as an offensive coordinator. The problem is, it's...not the greatest track record. His Clemson teams wildly underachieved, and then he spent a year at Syracuse before getting summarily dumped for Nate Hackett (who for the record, was terrible until 2012.) Spence has a reputation as a really conservative play caller, known for calling a very large number of screens. Besides the merits, this would be sending entirely the wrong message, especially considering how his pupil Gary Nova badly regressed against Virginia Tech.
Dana Bible - Former BC and NC State offensive coordinator is about as conventional as it gets. Currently out of a job due to Tom O'Brien being fired (who has since landed on the UVA staff.) Somewhat of a retread, but his NC State teams at least had a lot of success airing it out. Bible fits the mercenary model laid out above quite well.
Rich Skrosky - If you do want to move to the spread, this is the guy. Look at what Ball State's offense did this year, and the progress they've made since the Pete Lembo hire two seasons ago since both of them left Elon. Skrosky is from Lodi in Bergen County and went to college at Ramapo, giving him obvious local ties to New Jersey.
Mark Whipple - Talk about being loved or hated, Rutgers fans seem to be wildly divided on this candidate, which can also be said about many people behind the scenes. Whipple was wildly successful at UMass and had a great first season at Miami, before Jacory Harris started turning into a turnover machine. Whipple also has NFL experience with the Steelers and Eagles. He has been the quarterback coach in Cleveland the past few seasons, with his status unclear following the recent turnover on their coaching staff. I personally would love the hire, but it seems unlikely for many reasons. As an aside, his son is walking on at Penn State.
Bill Lazor - My favorite pick during the past two coaching searches; never actually linked to Rutgers despite seeming to be a fit on paper. Lazor had two good seasons at UVA before the entire team regressed in 2012. Was reportedly looking around for a better job last season. Their staff has had a ton of turnover already this year.
Brian Angelichio - I've went back and forth on listing him. Even for position coaches, the NFL is far more appealing than college, so there is presumably very little chance that he would leave Tampa Bay. Last year there was some speculation that he could have been Frank Cignetti's successor, so it'd make sense from that perspective, and the idea of Flood going through his rolodex.
Charlie Taaffe - He is currently the offensive coordinator at UCF, so in theory he would be gettable. His offenses have been respectable at UCF and Maryland, although Ralph Friedgen did let him go following two straight 5-6 seasons. Their offense got a lot worse when he left though. He does seem to be tied into that whole Friedgen/O'Leary network. At 62, would he want to leave Orlando to return to the northeast?
Extreme long shots
Jedd Fisch - Current Miami offensive coordinator, and New Jersey (Livingston) native. Yeah, he probably wouldn't be interested, but it's surely worth a call considering the looming sanctions at Miami.
Kevin Rogers - Rogers is a northeastern coach who has worked at Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Temple, and Boston College. He would have definitely been a name to consider two years ago before the Cignetti hiring for sure. His brief tenure at BC may doom his chances, with Rogers officially resigning for "health" reasons largely believed to be a cover for a conflict with their former head coach Frank Spaziani.
Chuck Long - Reportedly was a candidate at Virginia Tech before getting passed over for Loeffler. Was successful at Oklahoma, but bombed wildly at San Diego State and then Kansas. There might be other names with similar credentials, but I would have to go back and check who was getting mentioned a lot over the past month. There are a few of these types (Jeff Jagodzinski, Matt Cavanaugh) you would think would be summarily dismissed out of hand for various reasons.
Update: some other names that sort of make sense and have been suggested by others are John DiFilippo (horrible track record) and Warren Ruggiero (NJ native who knows Flood, but an impossible sell with Bowling Green's offense struggling this year.)