Is Rutgers football in good hands? Would a change make a difference? Yesterday we threw out the idea that the latest-and-greatest coach may not always be the best choice. Today, we look at some Scarlet coaching history.
Many people consider coaching stability to be a key for success. Which might partly explain Rutgers' issues. But more on that later.
Yesterday we threw out a few schools and asked you to guess how many coaches each had since 1970. Here are the answers and some thoughts:
Virginia Tech: Beamer has been there forever, and that may now be an issue. But since 1970, the Hokies have only had four coaches, including Jerry Claiborne (ten years, 61-39-2) who then moved on to Maryland (ten years, seven bowls, three ACC titles). Sounds like he was the right coach.
Maryland: Eight-plus coaches. The plus is the current interim. But eight!
Virginia: Six, including two who served for less than three years each.
Syracuse: The Orange are on their fourth coach since 2000. They've had seven since 1970.
Boston College: Amazingly, nine. But that includes Tom O'Brien and Tom Coughlin who moved on to bigger and better things, along with Jack Bicknell who figured out how to get a 5'9" QB a Heisman.
Baylor: Art Briles wasn't there forever. And we'll talk about him again. But the Bears have gone through seven coaches. But that included a twenty year tenure for Grant Teaff. Do the math: everyone else averaged about four years.
The last two may come as a shock. Purdue, despite its recent failings, has a pretty storied tradition. And ten coaches since 1970. Pitt is even more of an eye-opener. Since 1970, the Panthers have had 15 head coaches, eight since 2000. And it includes Johnny Majors for two stints.
So much for continuity.
The RU Carousel
Rutgers has five people in the National Football Hall of Fame: three are coaches.
But since I started watching Rutgers, there have been seven men walking the sidelines, and most have had losing or barely above .500 records. Each brought something, but there was never a home run. No, not even Schiano. As I said, he brought something (recruiting, energy) but lacked other things (poor game management, poor personnel decisions). And the records of all those coaches reflected that.
The years between Frank Burns and Greg Schiano were desolate. Seventeen years of mediocre to poor to horrible football. That's a generation! Dick Anderson had coached under Joe Paterno, so the assumption was he knew his stuff. And his game plans were good; he beat his Alma Mater in 1988 for RU's first win over PSU in 70 years. But his recruiting was, well, questionable. And after six years, the Anderson era was done.
That brought in Doug Graber. Graber could recruit, but his defense and overall game management was.....spotty. And if you look at his pedigree, his head coaching experience was one year at Montana State and three years as HC of the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. That was good enough for Rutgers to make him our head coach.
By the way, both of those hires were Fred Grunninger's. As was Terry Shea.
Shea knew his X's and O's. I had a friend who was a San Jose State grad where Shea had been HC and he said Shea could coach the daylights out of a football. And he could....and did....after Rutgers. But he couldn't recruit and his West Coast offense didn't work here. Enter Greg Schiano.
Let there be light....and Greg said okay
Schiano was the right coach at the right time. After seventeen years of Rutgers winning barely one-quarter of its games, along came the man with a plan. I heard Schiano speak at alumni functions twice after he was hired. My feeling was that if this guy couldn't get it done, then we should shut down the program. I bought the Kool-Aid and I drank it. And then came the bowl games, the Thursday night games with the sky-cam over the stadium. This was cool. But it also brought the meltdown games, the inexplicable losses to Cincy and UNH and Villanova and UConn. And a one game over .500 record, granted coming in with not a bare cupboard, but no cupboard at all. Then.....
Helloooooo, Tampa Bay. Bye-bye Greg. And the parting, coming as it did so close to NLI day, left mixed feelings among the Scarlet faithful. I said so long, Greggy; don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
And here we are now
Now in the fourth year of the Flood era, a lot of us don't know what we've got. This year has been as tumultuous and unfathomable as any of us could imagine, and the calls for Flood's head have been getting louder. As have the calls to stay the course, let the season play out, and see how he does.
There is no easy fix. Look at those seventeen years of horror On the Banks. Each time, the new hire looked like he might turn things around (okay, maybe not Shea). But each time, there was something missing, something that didn't get Rutgers over the hump. And we come back to the question: is a coaching change going to make a difference? Will the right change make a difference?
Tomorrow: How one school hit the jackpot, and can it happen at Rutgers