The Rutgers coaching search heated up in media circles yesterday. Former Miami head coach Al Golden emerged as a favorite, as did Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash. We compared the two candidates here. There was also a report out of Ohio that Buckeyes offensive coordinator Ed Warinner is being considered by Rutgers.
If you are going to consider top coordinators for your head coaching position, speaking to the defending national champions offensive and defensive coordinators makes a lot of sense. Especially when you live in the Big Ten East. President Barchi indicated Rutgers wanted to move quickly in hiring a replacement for Kyle Flood. New athletic director Patrick Hobbs cannot move forward with anything else until he resets the direction of the football program.
At the time, Ohio State blowing their Big Ten title chances losing at home to Michigan State 17-14 wasn't anything more than surprising to Rutgers fans. However, that loss has become a major key in Rutgers search for a new football coach. If Ohio State had won that game, the Buckeyes would be preparing for the Big Ten Championship this weekend in Indianapolis. That would have resulted in limited availability for both Ash and Warinner this week. There also could have been the possibility that Ohio State would not have granted permission for Rutgers to speak with them at all this week, leading up to the game.
Instead, both Ash and Warinner have been in New Jersey recruiting for the Buckeyes. A very convenient break for Rutgers. On the flip side, one candidate that could be on Hobb's short list is Alabama assistant coach Mario Cristobal. There hasn't been much talk about him recently and there could be a good reason for that. Unlike Ohio State, Alabama is preparing for the SEC Championship game this Saturday against Florida. It's possible that if Hobbs did inquire about speaking with Cristobal, he was told to wait until next week after the game.
It's possible that Greg Schiano and Hobbs speak this week, now that the Miami job went to Mark Richt. It's also possible Hobbs is talking to other candidates not yet reported. If the search continues into next week, then other assistant coaches from top programs who played in conference championship games could enter the conversation, like a Cristobal. At the moment, it appears that Golden, Ash and Warinner are the three candidates Hobbs is focusing on, giving the possibility that a new head coach could be named by the weekend. If Rutgers has truly honed in on this trio as their finalists, they caught a break with Ohio State losing to Michigan State. Otherwise, they would either have had to wait a week or not consider them at all. The more qualified candidates Hobbs can consider and in quick time, the better!