Last night, Patrick Hobbs met with the media in his first public appearance as the Rutgers athletic director. First impressions are key and Hobbs absolutely knocked his out of the park. He was personable, enthusiastic, confident, and intelligent. Hobbs lit up the packed room of roughly 50 reporters, answering every question thoughtfully and genuinely. Here are some takeaways from his press conference.
Football coaching search
He emphasized the importance of recruiting the state of New Jersey when it comes to football. That point will obviously be in his mind as he searches for a new football coach. He highlighted the upside of the football coaching position at Rutgers, being in the Big Ten a key factor. Hobbs highlighted the right candidate must have the ability to lead young men, have accountability and integrity, as well as be a great ambassador for the university and help with fundraising.
Hobbs addressed he hasn't had to hire a football coach before, but that he has made a lot of important hires. He is confident in his process and he is taking advice from as many people as possible. Hobbs indicated he is using a search firm and has had multiple conversations with them already. He is also working with BOG chairman Greg Brown and Ken Schmidt. Hobbs also mentioned he has friends in the sports business and that he trusts their opinions. He would not disclose any candidates being considered.
As for projected salary range for the new football coach, Hobbs indicated Rutgers was able to project future budgets based on the future full conference share from the Big Ten. Big money is coming down the road, which allows for more flexibility with this hire, as opposed to the low salary Flood was on. He did temper those comments with Rutgers being a state university, implying the bank would not be broken. Essentially, they are willing to pay more for the right hire but I don't expect Rutgers is willing to pay top dollar either. It sounds like Hobbs biggest sell is the opportunity to create something at Rutgers, compete in the challenging Big Ten East, and grow the program into greatness.
Hobbs made it clear as soon as he hires a football coach, his main focus will be on fundraising for new facilities. He praised the current plan in place and mentioned he is meeting with Sarah Baumgartner, the leader in fundraising for the athletic department, today. He acknowledged Rutgers is not where it needs to be with facilities and is far behind our Big Ten counterparts. Hobbs seems eager to get working with donors, alumni and fans and getting a buy in from as many people as possible. He also encouraged the media to publish comparisons of Big Ten facilities to highlight how much work Rutgers has to do to catch up with other conference schools.
Alumni, Students, & Fans
Hobbs said he thinks New Jersey wants Rutgers to be in the Big Ten and is ready for it. He said fans were what it is all about. After the press conference, Hobbs actually mingled during the basketball game, talking with students. Hobbs also mentioned the importance of standing and cheering for our student athletes every time they enter and exit a game. He said booing should never happen and said our student athletes demand respect for their dedication. Hobbs did say we need more students at games, starting with Saturday's men's basketball game against Seton Hall.
Hobbs has reset the ceiling for Rutgers athletics. He seems to have a strong understanding of the challenges ahead and addressed them head on. He focused on the future, lauded the foundation Rutgers has to build on, and emphasized previous mistakes can be put in the past quickly. Hobbs signals a new day for Rutgers and a fresh start. He came across as the athletic director that we desperately need. No candidate is perfect but Hobbs is a polished, professional leader who has a vision. He understands New Jersey politics, he understands how to address the media, and he comes across as someone who genuinely wants to make alumni, students and fans proud and happy. He is night and day from Julie Hermann, who he mentioned along with Kyle Flood, and his respect for their dedication and hard work. He presents as a class act and someone that will represent Rutgers in a way we have all hoped for. Hobbs will be able to sit in a room with the other Big Ten athletic directors and hold his own. Patrick Hobbs is our leader of the athletic department and that is the most promising development at Rutgers since becoming a member of the Big Ten conference.