For the fourth time in as many years, Rutgers has a new offensive coordinator, and his name is Ron Prince. Prince has quite the coaching history, and consequently, knows his way around the college football rodeo. I reached out to Bring On The Cats and Streaking The Lawn for some perspective on Prince's hiring. The result is interesting, to say the least:
Q: Ron Prince has created a fairly prominent internet meme of himself (largely without his own doing). What's your take on this, and do you think it's all deserved?
Bring On The Cats: My guess is you're talking about this. Who doesn't swoon at the thought of winning the Ron Prince Love Sweepstakes?
Your guess is as good as mine as to how much of that is legit. For legal purposes, I'M SURE IT'S ALL TOTALLY FALSE. From the way the program was run when he was in Manhattan, I wouldn't be surprised if the stories told by the (purported) former players in that thread are true (WAIT, I'M SURE THEY'RE ALL LIES). I'm not touching the Love Sweepstakes stuff with a 1,500 mile pole BUT I'M SURE IT'S ALL FALSE, TOO.
Streaking The Lawn: I didn't even know about this, I had to ask for help. I don't think you can blame Prince for being willing to take any job. I doubt he's different from other coaches in that regard. You can, of course, blame Prince for sucking.
Q: Describe the type of offense that Prince ran at K-State/Virginia. Was he conservative or aggressive?
BOTC: His favorite phrase* was "bold and daring," so that should give you an idea. He once called two halfback pass plays in a row. In fact, the halfback pass was probably his favorite play. Also, very possibly his most effective. A lot of memories from this time are suppressed, but I think he ran an onside kick once where the kicker fell down as a diversion. You won't be bored.
*He actually had a lot of favorite phrases. Bold and daring. Confirmed. Other things that he would repeat multiple times in every single interview he gave.
STL: Prince is probably the most aggressive offensive coordinator I've ever seen. He will aggressively call for the same off-tackle run over and over again, regardless of the fact that everybody in the stadium knows its coming.
Q: Rutgers' offensive numbers were abysmal last year: 88th passing, 106th rushing, and 98th in points for. Do you think getting a Ron Prince will improve those numbers?
BOTC: Here's where I need to separate Head Coach Ron Prince from OC Ron Prince. Head Coach Ron Prince was pretty much a disaster in Manhattan. And while OC Ron Prince wasn't anything spectacular at Virginia, and his offensive "philosophy" was harder to understand than Sanskrit, he led some perfectly average offenses at K-State. In total offense, K-State was in the top 40 nationally in Prince's final two seasons in Manhattan.
STL: I guess it depends on whether you guys have another Ray Rice. Credit where credit's due, Prince is actually a very good OL coach. So Ray Rice would probably do well.
Q: Obviously Josh Freeman was a very talented player for K-State. How much of Ron Prince do you think had to do with his development, if at all?
BOTC: Prince himself probably didn't have a lot to do with Freeman's development, mostly because Prince is an offensive line guy, not a quarterback guy. Current Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin should get the credit for Freeman's development at K-State. He was K-State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2006 and 2007. In the sense that Prince brought in a coach of Franklin's caliber, then I guess you can give him partial credit. Prince's initial staff at K-State was pretty solid, with Franklin as OC and current Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris as defensive coordinator.
Q: Matt Schaub had some great seasons during his time at Virginia. How much did Ron Prince contribute to his development as QB?
STL: Prince had zero contribution to Schaub's development. I don't know what Schaub would say, but Virginia fans would agree that Bill Musgrave made Schaub what he is. Prince came on after Musgrave left. The one game Schaub missed under Prince, we had basically zero offense.
Q: How many JUCOs are enough for Coach Prince?
BOTC: ALL THE JUCOS. K-State just this year is back to 85 scholarship players, or at least close to it, at least partially as a result of The Great Ron Prince JUCO Experiment.
STL: Since you're only allowed 25 recruits per season, that seems like the upper bound. I believe he once had something like 19 JUCOs in a single class at KSU. Virginia doesn't typically take JUCOs, so I can't really give any anecdotal evidence.
Q: What is the lasting legacy of Prince in Manhattan? How would a typical Wildcat fan describe his tenure?
BOTC: It wouldn't be pleasant. Prince's tenure started off promising, with the staff he assembled and a decent first season. But after Rutgers dismantled us in Houston, and the team fell apart in November 2007, the cracks started to show. Maybe Prince just wasn't ready for a head-coaching job. Maybe his skills and personality are those of a lifetime coordinator.
Whether it's true or not, most Wildcat fans think Prince was done in because he thought he was smarter than everyone else around him. I'm throwing in a lot of qualifiers here because I don't have any inside information, but as the story goes, he was pretty much impossible to work for, which is why Franklin and Morris bolted. Once they left, he replaced them with yes-men who were in way over their head at OC and DC, and K-State tanked. For your sake, I hope he's better as an OC.
Q: What is the lasting legacy of Prince in Charlottesville? How would a typical Cavalier fan describe his tenure?
STL: I don't know that Prince even has a legacy. Al Groh didn't let his assistants speak to the press, so the typical fan wouldn't have the slightest clue who Prince is. For me, the lasting memory of Prince is the 7-5 game we lost in Chapel Hill, the week after having upset #4 FSU. Our QB was gimpy and Prince simply called stretch play after stretch play for 60 minutes. Worst play calling I've ever witnessed. It's been nearly 8 years and I'm not sure I've recovered.
What does this mean for Rutgers?
Well, after reading that, you might think that the Ron Prince OC experiment may not work out as we all want it too. Certainly, Prince had his fair share of highlights at both schools, but unfortunately he will be remembered for what went wrong. What should we expect? I will say this: aside from his eccentric past, Prince is an experienced coach with both college and NFL experience. The outgoing coach, Dave Brock, did not exactly upset very many people by leaving for Delaware.
I won't post the offensive numbers again because the struggles at the end of last year are well-known. It's safe to say that someone who has experience producing a mid-tier offense can give Rutgers a sufficient boost to both the pass and the rush. In other words, enough of a boost to not be a liability. As RU fans, we all know that that is all it takes for this team to win games.
If you want to feel a little better, just know that the guy who called the Pittsburgh game last season is gone.
A million thanks to TB of Bring On The Cats and TikiUVA of Streaking The Lawn for helping out with the Q&A. What will the post-Collin Klein era bring to Kansas State? Check out BOTC for more Wildcat coverage. The Hoos have assembled an impressive recruiting class for 2014, currently ranked #18 by ESPN. How will they finish? Head over to STL for more on the Virginia Cavaliers.