There is no love lost between fans of Rutgers and Boston College. Needless to say, I'm grinning from ear to ear at the news that coach Jeff Jagodzinski's game of chicken with the school is finally bringing the Eagles a few much-deserved negative headlines. Rivals and Scout are one thing, but it really got my goat to see the Boston College student newspaper taking shots at Rutgers.
At BC, the athletics department prides itself on how integrated it is with the rest of the University, which it believes is the key to avoiding problems like those at Rutgers.
Welcome to the glass house, please enjoy your stay. I'll be the first to admit that Rutgers and its athletic department are the source of an endless well of mismanagement and drama. That doesn't mean we shuld sit idly by and be a punching bag for self-important idiots that want to feel better about themselves.
The irony of this all, of course, is that Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo largely owes his job to the personal recommendation of Bob Mulcahy, a formerly close friend owing to their mutual ties to Villanova. Bob Mulcahy managed to come out of 2008 with his personal integrity completely intact. DeFilippo and Boston College are now widely loathed and reviled for their lies and double dealings running up to their departure from the Big East conference.
DeFelippo has finally learned a difficult lesson; integrity is a two way street. You can't exactly pull the "we had a contract! I said good day sir!" act when you have, repeatedly, shown that your word means absolutely nothing. Today, Rutgers fans can hold their heads up high, because Mulcahy and Greg Schiano would have never allowed anything like this to occur on their watch. We survived the trial by fire. Yes, we're finally learning.
After reading what Ivan Maisel said a few weeks ago about Terry Shea, I set off to see if the statement held up. One early hit that I thought was very interesting was an excerpt from a book by Herschel Nissenson. Among other tidpits, he claims that
It's not generally known, but Rutgers, through the late Sonny Werblin, actually approached Joe Paterno before hiring Dick Anderson, a Penn State assistant in 1984. Anderson lasted six years, then was fired with a 27-34-4 record.
"Occasionally, we'll run into a kid in Florida, or someplace like that, who calls it Root-gers, or something like that," Graber once said.
He harps on the oft-discussed identity crisis issues, but what was really telling was the anecdote about the search to replace Graber.
Burns begged for better facilities. He didn't get them. Anderson did, but his recruiting left something to be desired. Graber got a new stadium, almost double the size of the old one, and kept some good home-grown players in the state.
When Graber was fired, I called Fred Gruninger, then the athletic director, to recommend Jack Bicknell, a former head coach at Boston College and a New Jersey native. Bicknell, I believed, would have united the high school coaches in New Jersey, which is important in a state that usually loses its best prospects to Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, and the like. Bicknell actually applied for the job.
A few nights later, Gruninger called me.
"Do you know Glen Mason (then the Kansas coach)?" he asked. I said I did.
"Would you mind calling Mason to see if it's OK with him if we call his athletic director to request permission to speak with him?"
I did; Mason, another Jersey boy, said OK.
A few nights later, Gruninger called again.
"Do you know Bob Davie (then a Notre Dame assistant) ?"
I said I had met Bob Davie during his days as an assistant at Pittsburgh, but didn't really know him. I also told Gruninger that hiring someone away from Notre Dame would take a few headlines away from the Giants and Jets, which is something Rutgers needed.
A few nights later, Gruninger called yet again.
"Do you know Terry Shea?"
I said I only knew Shea by reputation. Gruninger said Bill Walsh had recommended Shea and promised to speak at at Rutgers' spring clinic if the school hired Shea. I said I thought that was a pretty weak reason to hire a head coach, and I also wondered why Shea didn't get the Stanford job when Walsh left (he was the offensive coordinator).
We all know the story after that point.
As the remnants of the crowd filed out of Rutgers Stadium, the P.A. system reminded everyone to be sure and see the statue commemorating the birthplace of college football. "Yeah," snorted one disgruntled Rutgers fan, "it's a tombstone."
The reason, of course, to continually revisit this subject is that I am trying to do all in my power to make sure that Rutgers University does not make the same mistakes again. Terry Shea was the straw that broke the camel's back, but he was just the end result of a long process - decades of neglect, placing athletic success as a low priority. For his faults, Robert Mulcahy was the architect of long-needed structural changes that finally placed the football program on a solid foundation moving forward.