Welcome to the State of Rutgers
When Greg Schiano came to town, he said we were going to put a wall up around the "State of Rutgers", his term for what our prime recruiting territory was. He more or less defined it as New Jersey and any state contiguous with New Jersey, along with Florida. I guess you could massage that territory to suit your needs, but how well did he and his successor, Kyle Flood, do that? And is it all that critical now, with the Big Ten footprint being part of our world? Can we extend that border? Or are we, as with the economy, more global in our reach?
Hmm, Jersey roots, global reach. I like that. Gotta talk to someone about that.
Kyle Flood has said that he continues to recruit the "State of Rutgers". At Big Ten media day, he reiterated that point. "....the State of Rutgers begins in New Jersey, but it also includes southeastern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and we've always traditionally recruited Florida. So that's been our recruiting footprint, and that will not change."
Schiano, still on the payroll of the Buccaneers and looking at a second year off the sidelines, may have coined the phrase about the "State of Rutgers", but he may not have felt that strongly about recruiting New Jersey. In a well publicized Sports Illustrated profile of the 48-year old, Schiano said that bringing in New Jersey kids was something that he felt obligated, even pressured, to do. "Even at Rutgers, I made a mistake of the pressures of, 'He's a New Jersey kid.' And everybody is saying, Well, if you let him get out of the state. And in my heart, he's not as good as this kid that's a two-star."
So how much did Schiano, and now Flood, recruit the "State of Rutgers"? In later years, Schiano was able to pull in some top New Jersey talent. In the early going, it was a bit of a crap shoot, and he undoubtedly relied on his prior connections from his days with the Miami Hurricanes. Otherwise, how do you stretch New Jersey's borders to Key West?
Schiano was hired in December of 2000. The team he inherited - and for our discussion, we'll include the exiting seniors - was already made up primarily of players from the "State of Rutgers". Despite the fact that outgoing coach Terry Shea was a West Coast guy, his recruiting classes focused on what would be defined as RU's traditional recruiting territory.
And Schiano's first four classes, including the one he had to assemble in his first two months on the job, reflected a strong New Jersey flavor along with his contacts from Florida.
By comparison, Kyle Flood has extended his reach in his first four classes (including the as yet unsigned 2015 group). While New Jersey and even Florida are still favorite recruiting areas, Flood's recruits hale from 15 different states and DC. Schiano focused his efforts and brought in kids from just seven. As an example, Pennsylvania in the early Schiano years was a limited resource; it now brings in quite a few recruits.
That Flood chart is a pretty busy one. So let's go back to the "State of Rutgers". That territory will include New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, DC, and Florida. Here, Flood still extends a bigger footprint.
Note 1: Both Kiy Hester (NJ) and Hayden Rettig (CA) are not included in the 2014 class.
Note 2: The 2001 recruit from Missouri was Ryan Cubit, the son of Schiano's OC, Bill Cubit.
Was Schiano's limited territory a product of limited time to work in 2001 and, later, a reliance on his strength in Florida? Is Flood's extended reach a factor of being in the Big Ten and the program being more known outside the "State"? The saga continues and we'll see what happens on February 4. Let us know your thoughts.