Back in the spring of 2013, as Rutgers was going through its biggest controversy in years, Kyle Flood managed to compartmentalize his football program. Outside the Lines was replaying Mike Rice's vicious dodgeball practices over and over. Tim Pernetti had been fired, and the AD search was taking bizarre turn after bizarre turn. But Flood and the football program kept plugging, being the beacon in an otherwise damaged area of the university.
And now, as Kyle Flood goes through his own turmoil, as Rutgers' name is stained once more because of several missteps, only one man can step up and make us proud of the athletic department again.
In nine days, Rutgers basketball will take the court at the RAC for their first practice of the season. Eddie Jordan will likely speak to the media about his team and the way his program has been building. He will have a nearly full roster of his own players, and the success of recruiting some blue chip players in Corey Sanders, Deshawn Freeman and 2016 graduate Kwe Parker to point to. But, at that time, Flood's suspension will be winding down, and Jordan will likely be asked about his football counterpoint. And Jordan will probably have nothing but kind words to say about the embattled football coach.
However, the football team's prospects at this moment aren't looking great.
And now, Jordan's slow, methodical rebuild will be forced into overdrive. Because a losing football program and a losing basketball program will only further sully Rutgers' image. We've already written about how important Year 3 is for coach Jordan. He has to step up.
So far, Jordan has faced one controversy in his tenure, and stepped up. He immediately owned not getting his degree when he was on the banks as a student, and while coaching the team, went out and fixed that problem. He showed his team what hard work was, by coaching, recruiting, and being a student.
The man also helped pull off one of the biggest upsets in Rutgers history, and then broke down in tears afterward. The man bleeds scarlet.
And, once again, it falls on him to save the Scarlet Knights. No one is asking for him to get to the NCAA tournament this year (though it would be nice, if you could pull that off, Eddie. Don't let me stop you.). But 15 wins and some huge upsets at the RAC would go a long way toward healing an athletic department. A fun, young team pressing, running and scoring, would go a long way toward distracting the donors from football and turning them toward that RAC Parking Deck.
Eddie Jordan has a lot on his plate. Can he compartmentalize his program like Flood did back in 2013? And then, can he take that team and turn them into something memorable? There can't be anymore 15 game losing streaks. There has to be a step forward.
Jordan is the perfect man to lead the athletic department forward, out of more darkness. He is one of Rutgers most loyal sons. He was already brought in to fix one embarrassment.
Can he turn eyes away from another?
Flood is suffering the slings and arrows right now. And, while C. Vivian Stringer would be the perfect choice for this, she often ends up being a lightning rod herself (for the good of Rutgers, of course).
Nine days from now, we'll start to get our answer. As practice reports leak out, we'll see what Sanders and Freeman can do. We will hear about young, fun energy.
And hopefully the man who bleeds scarlet can step up and start to help Rutgers heal again.
Dave White is a die hard Rutgers basketball fan and author of several thrillers. Most of those novels tie into Rutgers in some way or another, and there are explosions. Check them out at Dave's website.