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Rutgers Coaching: When do you call it quits? Part 4

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Our first season in the Big Ten has not been smooth, and it certainly doesn't have a lot of successes to crow about.And just as our Buckeye buddies questioned our success, we will, too: when do you change coaches? And why? Today we take a final look at the still in-progress spring season and what it all means for the coaching staff at RU.

rvc73

Two seasons down, one to go.

Baseball

Joe Litterio is a Rutgers grad.  He took the team to a second place finish in the AAC.  The Big Ten has been a bit tougher.

At this writing, the team stands at 15-27-1, 5-10 in conference.  They've lost three of the five Big Ten series they've played, including being swept by Michigan State and Indiana.  Statistically, they're at or near the bottom of the conference in significant categories.  The team has three series left, including a three game set at league-leading Illinois and home to second place Iowa.


Baseball

Overall

Conference



W-L-T

%

W-L

%

1

Illinois

36-6-1

0.849

13-1

0.929

2

Iowa

30-11-0

0.732

13-2

0.867

10

Rutgers

15-27-1

0.360

5-10

0.333

Softball

Jay Nelson is in his ninth season at the helm of Rutgers.     The Scarlet recorded one of its best seasons in program history in 2014 as Nelson guided the Scarlet Knights to an overall record of 28-19 and 9-9 in the American Athletic Conference. RU captured its first postseason win since 1998, defeating Houston in the AAC Championships to advance to the semifinals.  The Scarlet Knights reached new heights in 2013, reaching 30 wins for just the fourth time in the 38-year history of the program and first time in Nelson's tenure.

This spring Rutgers started well overall and in conference.  They've stumbled a bit of late, including a just concluded three-game loss at Penn State.  They still likely make the conference championships, and they have a chance to solidify their position as 13th place Wisconsin visits this weekend.


Softball

Overall

Conference



W-L

%

W-L

%

1

Michigan

45-6

0.882

18-2

0.900

2

Minnesota

41-8

0.837

15-3

0.833

6

Rutgers

26-17

0.605

10-10

0.500

Women's Lacrosse

This is Laura Brand-Sias' 13th year as head of women's lacrosse.  A Rutgers grad, she is one of the longest tenured coaches on the Rutgers staff.  In fact, she is behind only Mike Mulqueen in Mens Track, CVS in hoops, and the rowing coach (see below) in terms of length of service at Rutgers.  Up through last year, she had a 105-91 record.  That now stands at 107-106.  And over the last five years - before this season - she was 47-36. 

Brand-Sias is in a very tough conference, with four Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 25.  In 2014, Rutgers wrapped up its final season in the BIG EAST Conference, earning a postseason berth for the first time since 2008.  Nine of their 17 games this year were against ranked teams.  This past weekend, the team recorded just its second win of the year, and first B1G victory, topping Michigan, 7-6.

Women's Lacrosse

Overall

Conference

W-L

%

W-L

%

Maryland

17-0

1.000

5-0

1.000

Penn State

12-4

0.750

4-1

0.800

Northwestern

11-5

0.688

3-2

0.600

Ohio State

11-6

0.647

2-3

0.400

Rutgers

2-15

0.118

1-4

0.200

Michigan

5-11

0.313

0-5

0.000

Men's Lacrosse

Brian Brecht is in his fourth year at the helm.  He was a successful head coach at Siena prior to coming to Rutgers. The Big Ten is new to lacrosse, but its programs have been successful, including Rutgers over the years.  Brecht has gone with a young lineup, and it's taken its lumps.  Its worse loss, though, was to No. 5/6 Virginia early in the season, a nine goal loss.  Since that third game of the season, the scoring has been better, as has the defense.

Men's Lacrosse

Overall

Conference

W-L

%

W-L

%

Maryland

12-2

0.857

4-1

0.800

Johns Hopkins

7-6

0.539

4-1

0.800

Ohio State

10-5

0.667

3-2

0.600

Penn State

5-8

0.385

2-3

0.400

Michigan

5-8

0.385

1-4

0.200

Rutgers

5-10

0.333

1-4

0.200

Golf

The Men's Rob Shutte is in his third season as head men's golf coach. And he and the team are finding what it's all about in the B1G.  Shutte is a Rutgers legacy, as his father played football and baseball for the Knights.

Julie Hermann's first coaching hire, Kari Williams, arrived "On the Banks" from Columbia University, where she guided the Lions to three tournament titles in 2013-14.  Columbia golfers earned All-Ivy League honors 12 times under Williams, including three in both 2007 and 2008 in her eight seasons there.

Demirjian Golf Practice Facility at No. 3/B1G Champion Illinois

Rutgers is the only Big Ten school without an indoor golf facility.  At the recently concluded Big Ten Championships, both squads finished in 14th place.  The best men's finish was Freshman Toks Pedro who finish tied for 51st in the 70-player field.  The best women's finish was Freshman Emily Mills and junior Christina Paulsen who tied for 46th.

Rowing

Max Borghard became the Head Coach of Rutgers Rowing in 1995. Under his direction, the Knights have qualified for the NCAA DI National Championships three times, in 1997, 1998 and 2001. Rutgers was one of only eight teams in the country to earn a full-team bid to the first ever NCAA championships in 1997.

Until this past weekend when it took three of five events, Rutgers has not scored that well in competitions this spring. Four Big Ten schools are ranked in the Top 20, and one just dropped out of the rankings.

No. 9 Wisconsin's boathouse

Crew and rowing are grueling, demanding sports.  There are, by a rough review of data, less than 30 high schools in all of New Jersey that have rowing and/or crew, but around 40 schools and clubs (combined) that sponsor it for high schoolers.  Finding local talent isn't easy, although it has seen growth.  And, like swimming, the question needs to be asked if not having a men's "varsity" program inhibits the women's rowing program.  And then there's the Rutgers boathouse off Route 18.

Tennis

Ben Bucca is in his 12th season as head coach of the Rutgers women's tennis program. Bucca boasts an overall record of 148-99 (.600) at the helm of the program. Over the last six years, Bucca has tallied a record of 89-45 (.664).  the Big Ten, however, has been a very different story.

Rutgers tennis facility next to the stadium

And, like swimming and rowing, the question needs to be asked if not having a men's program inhibits the women's tennis program.  And then there's facilities....or, in all honesty, the lack of them.


Women's Tennis

Overall

Conference



W-L

%

W-L

%

1

Michigan

21-3

0.875

11-0

1.000

2

Ohio State

18-5

0.783

10-1

0.909

13

Nebraska

12-12

0.500

0-11

0.000

14

Rutgers

6-14

0.300

0-11

0.000

Track and Field

As with cross country and the indoor season, there are two veteran coaches leading the respective programs.  Success in the Big Ten has been hard to come by, though.  The Big Ten Outdoor Championships are in two weeks.

What does it all mean?

No coaches are going anywhere.  Certainly not right now.

Going season by season, in the fall volleyball had a very poor showing in the B1G, and over his seven years, Head Coach CJ Werneke has not had results as good as he did at his last stop (Fairfield) in the MAAC.  But if he was going to be fired, it would have happened right after the season.  He needs at least some more time to get the feel of the Big Ten.  And maybe get at least a promise of a better facility than the College Avenue Gym.

The winter, as was written yesterday, isn't as bad off as some people [in Ohio] might think.  There are positive signs, and a number of the coaches are still relatively "new" in their jobs.

The spring was, again, an erratic season.  Tennis saw just how challenging the Big Ten can be.  But look at what Ben Bucca has to work with in terms of a facility.  Again, how about a promise that something - almost anything - is on the horizon that would give tennis a competitive edge.

If there is an area (or two) that has a serious chink in the armor, it might be track and field/cross country along with rowing.  The coaches in those areas have been around for a while, and the recent results haven't been great.  In track, you get a Corey Crawford last year or a Gabrielle Fahquarson this year and it seems to be a glimmer of hope.  Or is it simply an unexpected rare gift?  Rowing struggled mightily, with a veteran coach.  But be fair and realistic; the facilities these coaches have to work with are poor at best.

At least to a degree, we have a chicken-and-the-egg situation.  Facilities draw better athletes (and coaches).  But, at least in the past, the performances didn't "warrant" putting money into the sports for facilities.  Call it small-time thinking, benign neglect, or anything else you want.  We are now in a conference that is strong in every sport.  Maybe not every school every season, but the competition is there.  And they have the facilities - and the money.  Can we compete?

It's unlikely Julie will be replacing any coaches in the immediate future, unless the coach decides to leave. And the hires that then do get made will depend on the money available for salaries, the facilities there to attract a quality coach, and the commitment by Rutgers to be better than it is right now.