Anytime there's a power shift within a football program, it creates a domino effect. Whether it becomes for better or worse is highly contingent upon who the next coach becomes. Replacing the impact of Kyle Flood on the Rutgers program shouldn't be too difficult, considering he only lowered the standards of the program during his tumultuous three-year tenure. However, with Rutgers being widely regarded as one of the lesser-inviting coaching jobs in the Big Ten, it may be hard to convince current commits and targets that it's all up from here.
The Scarlet Knights currently rank 53rd in the 247Sports 2016 Class Team Rankings, which is good for 11th overall in the Big Ten, ahead of only Indiana, Illinois,and Purdue, respectively.
The chips have already begun to fall, with one recruit, Elias Reynolds already publicly announcing his decommitment from the program, just mere hours after Kyle Flood was relieved of his duties:
I have decided to Decommit from The University of Rutgers. pic.twitter.com/i8Oc0GHJ41— Eazy E (@_HITMAN7_) November 30, 2015
Many expect more top recruits to possibly decommit before February's National Signing Day, including top recruits such as Anthony Russo and Patrice Rene's true commitment to the Scarlet Knights largely in question.
UPDATE: 2016 Target Lucas Niang has confirmed to me that Rutgers is no longer in his top-five. Niang noted that Flood's firing was the icing on the cake of what was already a tumultuous season, and proved to bee just too much for his parents and he.
It's difficult to say where this program is headed as we near the finish line for the 2016 cycle, but once a new head coach is hired, it could provide us with far more clarity than we have now as we sit in somewhat of a lame duck period as Rutgers continues their coaching search. With rumors flying around that former Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano could return to the program, there's certainly hope that the program could see a swift turnaround. Schiano has always recruited well in New Jersey, and more specifically Florida; a state full of top-tier recruits that could enable Rutgers to become competitive in the Big Ten.
With so much speculation regarding Schiano's possible return, it could actually turn out to be a damning blow to the program if indeed he ultimately accepts a job elsewhere. All of this rumored hype could be building false hope into a program that is in need of actual promise of a real future. The proverbial 'waiting game' that Rutgers commits and targets are participating in is one that's difficult and unnerving. The school knows they must act swiftly and efficiently. Coaching speculation is one of the worst things that can happen for a recruiting class. We saw last week with all of the rumors about LSU's Les Miles inevitable firing cause the Tigers to lose top quarterback commit Feliepie Franks to SEC rival Florida. Georgia fired Mark Richt, and top quarterback commit Jacob Eason almost immediately decided to take a visit to..you guessed it..Florida.
Schools who are stable with coaches love this time of year, because they get to play the role of savior to vulnerable kids who feel betrayed or lied to by schools who turnover their coaching staffs. One thing is for sure in Piscataway... there's a future for the Scarlet Knights, but it's currently wading in the wings of the unknown.
Follow Chris on Twitter @warontheweekend where he'll keep you up to date with all of the latest national recruiting news and more specifically Rutgers football recruiting news and updates.