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Getting the right coach, Part 3: Hitting the jackpot

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If you only started following college football two or three years ago, you would think that Baylor was the greatest thing ever. But it wasn't always that way. The Bears caught lightning in a bottle, but can others do the same....can Rutgers?

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We've looked at the coaching carousel that has been Rutgers football over the last 40 years.  Seven coaches, each with something, but perhaps none with all the tools to wake the "sleeping giant".  What about other places and other coaches?

For every Nick Saban, there are a dozen Charlie Weis.  For every Urban Meyer, there are two dozen Randy Edsalls.  There aren't a lot of coaches who inspire fan bases and strike fear in opponents.  There are very few who have such charisma, brains, and football acumen that they can come in and turn around a program and make it a dynasty.

We tend to feel that Rutgers can't compete with the "name programs" for a quality coach.  We tend to believe that we either can't afford one or that Rutgers is not the job people would want.  But even the big guns strike out occasionally.  Look at Tennessee.

Butch Jones is in his third year with the Vols.  But it was only nine years ago that he got his first head coaching job, following Brian Kelly at Central Michigan.  In three years, he won two MAC championships, then took the head job at Cincinnati (again following Brian Kelly).  He won two Big East titles with the Bearcats, and Tennessee came calling. But despite his successes, Butch is feeling some heat in Knoxville. When you read things like this:

He wins on National Signing Day, he wins with boosters, he wins Monday through Friday.

But until Butch Jones wins big on Saturday, he looks like just another in an inexplicable line of men addicted to losing football games at the University of Tennessee.

....you realize that sometimes coaching geniuses don't always pan out.  The Vols are currently 3-4.  And the reason that Tennessee came calling on Jones was to escape the disastrous head coaching hires they made with Derek Dooley (three years, 15-21) and Lane Kiffin (one year, 7-6).

And what exactly does Lane Kiffin bring to the table, besides being Monty Kiffin's son?  He was 31 when Al Davis hired him as the Raiders head coach.  One year and four games later, Davis fired him with a 5-15 record.  He bailed on Tennessee and was fired by USC.  Yet Kiffin's name keeps surfacing, including in comments on this site.

How about Chip Kelly.  Familiar name.  Do you realize that he's only been a head coach of anything since 2009?  He was Oregon's OC for two years under Mike Bellotti, the man who turned Oregon into the machine that it is.  And before that he was the OC at New Hampshire, the same New Hampshire that dumped on Rutgers in 2004.

Sometimes a school goes outside the box,looking for some magic.  Take Notre Dame.  The school that had Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz prowling the sideline hired a high school coach, Gerry Faust, as its head coach in 1981.  Faust was a legendary high school coach at Cincinnati's Moeller High School. At Moeller, Faust was 174-17-2 with seven unbeaten seasons, four mythical national prep titles and five Ohio state titles in his last six seasons.  At Notre Dame, Faust was just four games over .500 when he resigned at the end of the1985 season.

A high school coach?  That's crazy!  Yet, the University of Houston took a chance on a head coach who only four years earlier was just that, a high school coach.  The man's name was Art Briles.  Briles was 34-28 at Houston, winning two division titles before heading for Baylor.  How big was that for the Bears?  This big:

Before Briles, Baylor was competing like Rutgers was between Burns and Schiano....maybe worse.  And now Baylor is regularly in the top 10 and the conversation for the CFP.  The right coach at the right time.

So, everyone wants the superstar, the coach with the Midas touch.  Sometimes you get something close; sometimes it turns out to be fool's gold.

Do you make a change in hopes of grabbing the brass ring (wow, we are just full of these phrases) or do you stand pat in hopes of things righting themselves.  And if you go for the change and fail (see Kiffin, Lane or Weis, Charles), then what?

A coach has to be the right fit for the school.  He has to have that "it" factor inside him, that spcial something that is needed for that school at that time. Is Kyle Flood ultimately that coach for Rutgers?  Or is there someone else ready to move RU to the next level?

When you talk about the right fit, look at Jerry Kill who, on Wednesday, resigned/retired as Minnesota's coach for health reasons.  Kill was the face of the Gopher program, and was a big force in them raising/committing money to a new athletic facility.  Following his resignation, the ESPN crew was talking about the Minnesota job.  Todd McShay, who I don't consider the source authority on college football, described the Minnesota job as one where 7-8 wins per year would be considered successful.  It wasn't a place where eight or nine wins is a bad job.  It is a place where a coach could make a long term home for himself being reasonably successful.  Is that the fit that Rutgers wants?  For me, yes.  For others, it's a failure.

And who gets to make that call on a coach?  Perhaps more important than who is the Rutgers coach going forward is who is the person making that decision...and and then deciding who to hire.  University President Robert Barchi has shown little true interest in developing the athletic program.  AD Julie Hermann has (I believe) worked behind the scenes, but seems to be handcuffed.  Donors - whoever and how many ever there are - have been generally quiet, save for Jeff Towers.

Is, as our Griffin Whitmer wrote, Kyle Flood here next year regardless of on-field results?  Or will the Flood era end on November 28?  It's going to be an interesting month.