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OTB Staff Roundtable: The Future of Rutgers Head Coach Kyle Flood

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Should the Rutgers football coach be fired and more importantly, what are the odds that he will be fired?

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Cancro: Hey, this is Bob, from Middlesex County.  Long time, first time.  Love the show.  When will you really go 1-0 each week?  Thanks, I'll hang up so you can answer. Kyle Flood should not have to answer that question ever again. At least not while wearing a red R on his apparel (which he wouldn't do if he was meeting a faculty member to discuss....)  I read that report about the grade and my jaw stuck open.  How could a seemingly intelligent man be so brazenly stupid and inept?  How could he be so brazenly arrogant in going against the recommendations of his academic support team?  How did he not realize that the kid he was trying to "help" was not worth helping?  A lot of bad judgments.  Money is the only possible reason to keep him; it's what is giving Darrell Hazell another year at Purdue.  But should that be the reason?  So many thought he should have been fired when the grade/email scandal was exposed.  He used up good will, he isn't recruiting that well, the on field results - even with the youth and lack of secondary experience - have been really bad, and the overall sense is he isn't getting the job done.  At least Purdue has its history and a $60 million football building on the drawing board.  If Flood is kept on, do ticket sales decline, do donations decline, does the stadium sit one-quarter empty each Saturday in the fall with large contingents of the opposition's fans in a lot of the seats?  Not a good look.  It's time to bite the bullet.  Tell Bob Barchi to step away from the Hale Center with his hands over his head and nobody gets hurt.  Fire Flood.

Ray Ransom: On the one hand, Flood has done a lot of great things under really hard circumstances and from what we know, he's a really good person. He won a share of the Big East and our first Lambert Trophy. He's on the verge of a longshot bowl season where he lost his best defensive player for the year, his best offensive player for most of the year, and his entire defensive secondary, in addition to a great graduating class from last year. He guided us through our first year in the Big Ten with aplomb and until this year was a great shepherd for our program. All that said, the embarrassment that he and his players brought to our program this year - between suspensions, arrests, and off-the-field scandals - means that we need to clean house. Everyone must go, from the AD down to the interns. This is a department that is suffering from a catastrophic failure to maintain a productive, positive culture. This is beyond repair. I don't just follow Rutgers football because it represents New Jersey. I follow Rutgers football because I love the "Win the Right Way" mindset that Schiano establish and that Flood tried to replicate. It made us the good guys. It made the tough losses okay. It made me proud to wear the Scarlet R. That mindset has been lost and that letter has been tarnished. It's time to move on - from admittedly a good coach and a great man - to a new institution, from top to bottom. I think everyone is gone by Saturday afternoon and Barchi makes his last big acquisition - a top-tier AD to hire the next coach.

Scott Logan: I'm probably in the minority, but knowing how Rutgers operates combined with looking at the college football landscape as a whole, I think keeping Flood may be the right call for now. Hear me out. While Flood's handling of the quarterback situation and #emailgate have left a lot to be desired, I really don't think he's quite as responsible for our 4-7 record as other people think he is. The team was ravaged by injuries and suspensions, leaving the secondary in shambles, so Flood isn't the only problem here. That being said, I wouldn't mind seeing Flood "future endeavored" if Rutgers is able to land a surefire upgrade. I just don't know how realistic that is. I'm skeptical Barchi will be willing to open his checkbook for a new coach - i.e. the reason Flood is coach in the first place. Plus, as of this moment, I don't think Rutgers would be any higher than seventh on the list of coaching vacancies. I think they'd slide in behind (in no particular order) Miami, USC, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Missouri. And that list will grow after the season, with LSU and Georgia possibly opening up soon. I just have a hard time seeing the dream candidates some fans bring up like Schiano, Chip Kelly, Bo Pelini and Les Miles passing up those spots to come to Rutgers, especially if the money isn't there. We all want the program to improve, so a Les or Chip or Bo or Saint Greg would be great, but my biggest fear is Flood getting replaced by the backup long snappers coach from Roast Beef Tech, all in the name of saving a buck. In that case, I'd say give Flood one more chance to turn things around. He's built a decent recruiting class so far, headlined by QB Anthony Russo. And as far as we can tell, the recruits are behind Flood, so it would be a shame to see lose some of those guys if Flood is fired, especially Russo. And if Flood fails next year, well, the competition probably won't be as fierce for coaching free agents as it is right now.

TL;DR If Rutgers is willing to pony up for an established upgrade, go for it. I'd rather Flood stay for one more year than bring in an under-the-radar shot in the dark on the cheap.

Griffin Whitmer: Boy, has my opinion changed since the beginning of the year. In the beginning of the season, I though it was a bunch of ticky-tack stuff against him and I still stood by his character. When the shitstorm rained down after the Washington State game, I lost respect for Flood but didn't think firing him would be the best move at that point. I still stood by Flood well into the season, stating that Rutgers couldn't afford to take the risk and possibly downgrade because of the hectic coaching market. As I write this, 4-7 Rutgers is preparing to face 2-9 Maryland at home and opened the game as underdogs. I see a team that has completely lost its identity. Say what you want about Schiano being a control freak and we all know how terrible he was with the media. However, Schiano had his shit together and kept his team in check, something Flood has not demonstrated the ability to do. That is what made Schiano a great college coach and why Flood is most likely out the door this weekend. Flood lost control of the players and the identity of the team. Rutgers is supposed to be a gritty team that plays physical, top-tier defense. They are know for their discipline both on and off the field. Clearly that is absent this year. Rutgers played elite defense in 2012, with Schiano's group of elite juniors and seniors. Rutgers hasn't played a snap of inspiring defense since 2012 and that is my issue with Flood. Even when Rutgers couldn't play offense back in 2011, they played great defense and special teams. Rutger struggled on defense in 2014, but Gary Nova and the offense would put up solid numbers most games. This year, Rutgers has had an absolutely atrocious offense. Their defense keeps getting worse. Their special teams is even terrible. Sure, Janarion Grant has been a bright spot, but he is only a fraction of that unit. The kickoffs are atrocious, the kicking is atrocious, the punting is atrocious, there have been only 2 (I think) blocked kicks. No punts have been blocked, either. Rutgers is bad in all 3 areas of the game and this woeful transition happened as the team became more and more Kyle Flood's "team". I could go on and on, but ultimately I think it is best for both Flood and the University to part ways. There is enough to fire Flood with cause and they should release the report and simultaneously fire Flood this weekend.

Aaron Breitman: Once the report came out about Flood's improper contact with a professor earlier this fall, I thought Rutgers should have fired him immediately.  It wasn't just the badly executed cloak and dagger routine, or the stupidity of his actions.  It completely changed my view of Kyle Flood.  I know he has done a lot of good things for the community, is a family man, and seems to genuinely care for his players.  However, his actions in that report highlighted a coach who feels entitled and displayed a clear disregard for academic integrity by trying to influence a grade change. He knowingly overstepped his authority and then completely denied that he did so. Since that day, I have not wanted him to represent our great university and our once respected football program.

You cannot have the leader of your program sneaking around and wasting time trying to circumvent rules.  He is the leader of 100+ young men, and he failed them.  Ultimately, several players failed Flood and decimated the depth chart on defense for this season.  For me, the behavior of some players against Michigan at halftime showed he even lost the good ones. To go into the half down 19 points and to talk down to the opponent is ludicrous.  It's a loser mentality and it starts with the coach.  I understand coach speak, but Flood has taken it to a level that is a joke. The 1-0 every week mantra, the making corrections line, and using too many positive words when describing performance after we all saw the actual product on the field, it has all been infuriating. In the locker room, he has completely lost this team, based on their behavior on and off the field this season.

I thought since his suspension, the only way he would be let go was if something else emerged and allowed the university to terminate his contract with just cause.  This would allow the university to move on from Flood without owing him the 1.4 million dollars written into his contract. In addition, Rutgers would be off the hook to pay 2.5 million to all of the assistant coaches if Flood is terminated for cause.  While I would feel badly for some of the assistants, the good ones will land on their feet in a better situation. Really, the only reason that Rutgers would keep Flood is money, because it is clear he is completely over his head as a big time football coach.

Now as a report from Keith Sargeant emerged last night, it seems the due diligence the university has done with the review of the football program may provide enough evidence to fire Flood for just cause.  That would not only save Rutgers 4 million dollars that they could reinvest in a new coaching staff, but it may also spell the end for athletic director Julie Hermann. One of my favorite proverbs is "it's always darkest before the dawn". After the litany of arrests, suspensions, dismissals, robotic coach speak answers, blow out losses and embarrassing behavior, a brighter future for the football program and the entire athletic department might finally be arriving!