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The upside of having an average coach

I think a normal distribution curve, with a few top or dismal performers, and everyone else bunched together in the middle, is applicable most professions or walks of life.  There will always be outliers at each end of the curve, multiple standard deviations away from the mean. The vast majority though will be within one deviation either way, two at most.

The problem with any retrospective analysis is that it's easy to argue with the benefit of hindsight. If a certain decision did not work out, perhaps it fell victim to bad luck. Maybe the process used to arrive at that specific choice was sound, and likely to be effective given a larger sample size. While there truly are great or awful decisions, most again likely fall somewhere in the middle. Please keep the preceding two paragraphs in mind as premises, because I want to briefly discuss the current state of Rutgers football.

Nobody should give the time of day to anyone calling for a knee-jerk overreaction, in any context. Panic empirically leads to bad choices, with the best decisions coming from longer, reasoned deliberations. The primary problem with this year's Rutgers football team is with the offense. Coach Schiano appeared to promote a play caller two years ago with a good resume, but in retrospect that is looking like a bad hire. Schiano does not have a perfect record of evaluating staffers, but it's fairly good. With as small as the team's margin of defeat has been this year, Rutgers football won't need to exactly light the world on fire in order to steady the course. Just producing a middle-of-the-road offense would have been good enough for an 8-1 record this year. Provided the requisite house cleaning that is in order occurs, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of Rutgers football.

Schiano, I posit, is one of countless FBS coaches living by the mean, which I am fine with. Most coaches rise and fall year to year with their fates heavily dependent on having the right staff in place, with Greg Robinson wrecking Michigan's defense being another prime example of that point. What exactly is Dave Wannstedt's excuse then, when Pitt already has two highly-touted coordinators in place? Greg Schiano may be "average", but that is not a pejorative. By definition, that description is apt for most coaches. After all, every game must have both a winner and a loser.

Naturally, Greg Schiano's compensation is an issue. Rutgers is a good opportunity, and the right candidate could quickly find success by engineering a quick turnaround. If RU needs to pay to land a top coach, perhaps Schiano should chip in salary to some extent. There's been no indication in any way, whatsoever, as to his feelings on doing that.

Harping on Schiano's pay misses the point though. His extension was what the market dictated, which is more of an indictment on college athletics in general. Greg was ranked 27th in total compensation last year. When you take into account the high cost of living and tax burden in New Jersey, that figure looks less daunting. Considering the team's sterling academic and off-field records, and all he has accomplished as a program builder, this discussion quickly becomes absurd.

Not only is Schiano not overpaid, but Alfred Doblin and the other no-nothings at the Bergen Record don't seem to understand how little taxpayer funding goes into the Rutgers University and athletic department budgets. It's little wonder Gov. Christie defended Rutgers football last week from those unfounded, baseless criticisms. Whatever you think of the Governor (I am explicitly not weighing in either way), he at least seems to be aware of this publicly-available information.

I think it's actually better, over the long run, to have a solid program builder like Schiano in place as opposed to striking gold with a Brian Kelly-esque flash in the pan. You have to be realistic here. As many merits as the Rutgers athletic department has, all things being equal they do not have the financial resources to keep an elite coach in any sport. I hope they would be capable at some point in the future. If Schiano were that guy, he would have stayed, but most would not have. Winning eight games a year while continuing to invest in the football program builds a stable foundation for future growth. If an athletic program's success is solely predicated on having an elite coach in place, then when Notre Dame burns out another one (and let's face it, they will) and comes calling, that house of cards is quickly falling down.