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Utterly unbelievable

We interrupt your Saturday to bring you a special, weekend edition of Bleed Scarlet.

THNT

"After many discussions and offers, the coach felt that the university was working with him and was committed to the completion of the stadium. Since such a drafted document was never executed, we never submitted it. There is no agreement amending the buyout," Mulcahy said.

It was reported last week by the Star-Ledger of Newark that Schiano would not have to pay a $500,000 buyout of his contract if the stadium is not completed on time. The story was picked up on the home pages of ESPN and Sports Illustrated Web sites. The Fox Sports site gave it the headline: "Secret deal could let Schiano leave Rutgers."

But there was no deal — secret or otherwise — according to Mulcahy and a source close to Schiano familiar with the details of the contract.

Under his current agreement signed in February 2007, Schiano is required to pay $500,000 for breaking his 10-year contract if he leaves for another school after the 2009 season. The Star-Ledger reported that "an addendum to that contract, never divulged by Rutgers, releases (Schiano) from those same damages if the construction is not completed on time."

The Star-Ledger attributed the side deal to comments made by Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick, who said, "We wanted to keep Greg Schiano as our coach."

Mulcahy denied Friday that an addendum excusing the $500,000 buyout figure existed.

Not that the buyout story was ever nearly as big of a deal as bystanders thought it was, but this, this, there are no words. Not only did the Star Ledger fail to get any facts right on an incomprehensible level, they've utterly dragged Rutgers through the mud.

That's not the only news however. The expansion is predictably being scaled back.

The $102 million expansion of Rutgers Stadium will not include all the bells and whistles envisioned by the athletics department, said Robert Mulcahy, the director of athletics.

However, Rutgers does not run the risk of giving head coach Greg Schiano an incentive to leave, should the project not be complete by the opening of the 2009 season, Mulcahy said.

The project to expand the stadium's capacity was started in December. It will increase capacity from about 42,500 to 56,000 before the 2009 season, helping meet the demand of a ticket waiting list of about 12,000.

When the details were first announced months ago, I wondered why they even needed new locker rooms, new practice fields, a new lounge, and other assorted amenities when the current ones were still in excellent shape. Looks like the AD held out as long as it could, but those non-essential additions had to be cut out in this economic climate.

In an interview with the Home News Tribune yesterday, Mulcahy indicated that the expansion will not be as elaborate as planned, though spectators will not know the difference.

Mulcahy is confident four elements of the project will be complete by 2009: Roughly 13,000 seats in the south end zone; the completion of the lower stadium bowl; a new scoreboard and a new stadium exterior.

"There were alternatives that we looked at, if we had extra money. And if we don't, they won't be done," he said. "But it's not things that are visible to the public."

Among items likely to be sacrificed for now are dining facilities and auxiliary locker rooms housed below the expanded section.

Plans for stadium were drawn last August and approved Dec. 5 by the Board of Governors. Since then, construction costs have risen.

"We've had a phenomenal rise in concrete and steel, and so you adjust your program to deliver what you need and for the price that's there," he said.

Mulcahy remains confident the first phase of the expansion will be complete for the scheduled Sept. 1 opener against Fresno State University.

The phase includes club seats for about 1,000 spectators, who earned the right to purchase seats based on their contribution to the Scarlet R Club, the fundraising arm of the athletics department.

"I expect that people in the club seats will be there for the Fresno State game. Barring a hurricane or something, they will be in there. The stadium will come in at $102 million. Despite all the words that have been said, that will be done," Mulcahy said.

In happier news:

Coming into training camp this year, Bucs offensive line coach Bill Muir had high expectations for rookie lineman Jeremy Zuttah.

They weren't the kind of expectations you might expect.

Muir didn't expect the Bucs' third-round draft pick to drop in and immediately steal someone's starting job. He simply expected Zuttah to arrive here having already mastered Coach Jon Gruden's playbook.

Talk about high expectations. Gruden's playbook is the Rubik's Cube of the NFL. Most players need months to decipher it. Zuttah needed only a few weeks. Muir wasn't surprised.

"We did our homework on this kid," Muir said.

Zuttah did his, often at Mach speed. He graduated from Rutgers, the school he chose over Princeton and Harvard because it afforded him the chance to play Division I football, in 31/2 years - with a degree in economics.

"He's brilliant," Gruden said.

No exaggeration there. Zuttah scored close to 1,300 on his SAT. When he piled on the courses in an effort to graduate early, his grade-point average actually went up.

Someone tell the Rutgers 10.

Zuttah does have a built-in edge. He says he has always been pretty good at solving mind puzzles and winning strategy games. Figuring out something as complex as Gruden's playbook was nothing new to him.

Zuttah is more than a brainiac, though. Sure, he spends his spare time playing chess and collecting Japanese comic books, but for a guy who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 303 pounds he is as athletic as they come.

He was the only offensive lineman to run a sub-five-second 40-yard dash at this year's combine, and only one offensive lineman Jake Long bench pressed 225 pounds more than Zuttah, who lifted the bar 35 times.

That said, the Bucs were a little surprised when he threw the pads on. They didn't expect him to be as physical or as polished as he's been.

"Some guys are just instinctive," Muir said. "Arron Sears, he's an instinctive guy. Jeremy Zuttah is just like him. The learning aspect of the game is not a problem for him.

"And that's a good thing. If you're smart and tough you usually get better and you have a good chance to make it in this business. So, yeah, this kid's got a chance to be something."

Zuttah is prepared if he doesn't make it. He figures his smarts and his economics degree will probably take him somewhere. As of yet, though, he's barely put a thought toward where it will take him.

"Right now, my mind is on football," he said. "But football's not forever. And this NFL thing is not guaranteed. That's why I got the degree and graduated early. You've got to be prepared for whatever happens."

If you don't think words can have an impact, you're wrong.

Scott, who attends Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., announced his decision last weekend to break a verbal commitment to Syracuse and sign with Central Michigan instead.

"I read all the blogs on the Internet, and it opened my eyes when people all were talking, 'Oh, we don't know if the coaching staff will be intact or not,'" Scott said in a telephone interview Friday morning. "That's all hearsay right now, but people started saying it. If enough people say it, it will eventually be true.