The long wait is finally over, as head coach Kyle Flood has finally filled both of his vacant coordinator positions. Let's start with the defensive side of the ball:
EDIT: Special teams is now open with Joe Rossi being promoted, obviously. This is what we've been waiting for however.
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Rossi
So much for being a long-shot. This hire suggests that Rutgers missed on possibly three separate candidates for the defensive coordinator position, otherwise Rossi would have been hired weeks ago. What else can explain the eternity of a search just to end up with the interim candidate?
Robb Smith is rumored to be on his way to Fayetteville, which left Frank Spaziani as the consolation prize. Nothing ever seemed to really surface with him, and Ron Vanderlinden apparently wasn't up for an ex-Terp head coach symposium. This is most likely the series of events that led to the long and winding road towards Rossi's hiring. Rossi is 34 years old and fairly green as a young assistant, so it seems rash to elevate him to such an important position. He will have some help, however, as Kyle Flood will be adding former LB coach and defensive coordinator Bob Fraser to the staff, assuming the role of LB coach once again. This is an interesting case considering Fraser has NFL experience as an assistant DC and has been Rutgers' DC in the past. While Fraser's best year as coordinator was the year Schiano was calling the plays (2011), he still has more of a case to be coordinator than Rossi. Perhaps Flood would like to groom Rossi as a longtime assistant, knowing that Fraser may return to the NFL at some point. It's not really a guarantee that Rossi will stay in Piscataway for long if his stock rises either though. They both graduated from Allegheny, so maybe they'll work very well together. In any case, having Fraser around should help.
Offensive Coordinator: Ralph Friedgen
This is as close to a home run as you're going to get. Ralph Friedgen is one of the most established names in the game, and he is responsible for some of Maryland's best years in the program's modern history. His offensive acumen is unquestioned, and he is also an able recruiter. At 66, Friedgen is definitely not getting younger, but a recent interview with the Washington Post stated that he would love to coach again if an opportunity would really excite him. Rutgers offered at just the right time. While jokingly claiming that he had burned his Maryland diploma, it's possible that he still carries some resentment towards his alma mater for firing him before he was ready to leave.
More importantly, Friedgen brings credibility to the coaching staff. He is more qualified to be head coach than Kyle Flood himself, and it will pay dividends for Flood to have Friedgen's experience on hand. His coaching tree includes two newly minted head coaches in James Franklin and Bill O'Brien, as well as former coach and current Maryland coordinator Mike Locksley. A popular criticism of Flood is that he doesn't have the necessary skills to run a successful program, evidenced by the blowouts this season as well as the defections in recruiting. Friedgen just might be able to help Flood manage these tasks more effectively.
A Good Rebound
Saeed Blacknall probably isn't coming back, and the problems on offense and defense are not an overnight fix. However, Flood made some decent moves here, albeit after quite a long process. Now that the coordinators are in place, Flood can focus on securing his class for NSD and working on a gameplan for the spring. The secondary and the quarterback battle will be the most important topics this offseason, and we finally have some certainty as to who will help Coach Flood turn things around.