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Next man up for Rutgers - coach edition

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We're on a bye week in football. So the constant 24-hour news cycle can rest. But there's still football stuff to talk about. Like Jeff Towers and what's going to happen after the Maryland game on November 28.

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There's a book, at least I think there should be a book, titled "What Every Athletic Director Should Know and Do". In Chapter 1 it says that "...you should have a list of potential head football coaches in your top drawer."  You know, just in case you need one in a hurry. I'm going to assume that Julie has one.  Or may in the near future.

The backstory

So, Jeff Towers, the guy who apparently helped finance Kyle Flood's contract extension, has been pretty vocal about supporting the object of his financial affection.  And doing it a lot.

And he also went "public" in an interview with Gannett's Ryan Dunleavy, an interview that made very clear his belief in keeping Kyle Flood as coach:

"A change in the head coaching position at Rutgers now will set the program back for years, if not permanently."

Permanently?  Uhh, correct me if I'm missing something here, but would that mean we would shut down the program if Flood ever left?  Just asking' because a permanent set back is pretty serious.

All of this is happening, of course, as Flood serves out his three game suspension for....how shall we say this?  How about saying doing everything wrong.  And that brings me back to my opening comment and the question that virtually everyone with an interest in Rutgers football is asking, at least to themselves: Does Flood survive this?  Do you bring back a man who was almost universally respected for his integrity, honesty, and values who then violated the integrity and values of the University he serves?  And for those who questioned his coaching strengths, they always had his "running a clean program" card to play.  Maybe not any more.  So why would he be retained?

Money, money.....mmmmm....money!

Well, here's Jeff Towers again.  If you believe the number in Steve Politi's column about Towers' involvement, the man is ready to make a donation to Rutgers, ostensibly for facilities, in the neighborhood of "eight figures".  That means at least $10 million.  So does that give him the right to call shots about who the coach is?  Not in my book.  Yes, I'm agreeing with SP.  Because he's right.

But does Towers reflect the views of many donors or just a few?  Or just one?  We don't know.  In the Dunleavy article, Towers leaves you to believe there are a lot of Flood backers out there:

"The boosters I have spoken to believe the long-term interests of the football program are best served by retaining Coach Flood," Towers told Gannett New Jersey. "Coaching continuity is a keystone of long-term success in any sport, let alone a Division I, Power Five football program." [Emphasis added]

Which boosters/donors has he spoken to?  How many?  Again, we don't know.

Changing leadership

In a rather interesting twist on the issue, one of the reasons that Towers feels it would be wrong and challenging to replace Flood is....wait for it....money.  He comments that making a switch - including the approximately $1.5 million buyout of Flood plus whatever would be needed for a new hire - would be cost prohibitive:

"A ‘marquee coach' would demand a salary and buyout amount that the university is unwilling to pay," Towers said. "And a ‘superstar-in-the making' would most likely see Rutgers as a stepping-stone to his next job. Until Rutgers becomes a destination-type football coaching position, coaching continuity is the best opportunity for lasting success."

Point one: It's too expensive a proposition.  But isn't it Towers, and people like him, who are the ones who are already putting up money and getting a product that a lot of us are questioning?  The cost would be significant, but is money a real issue?

Point two: An up-and-comer would just use RU as a boost to a better job.  Hmmm, probably a good point [Greg Schiano] but not necessarily an absolute [Greg Schiano].  Let's look elsewhere for examples.

Other than its hideous blue turf, did anyone know or care about Boise State before 1996, which was when they entered FBS?  That's right, BSU wasn't even playing the big boys til just a few years before GS came to Rutgers. They went through four coaches in ten years until they hit gold with Chris Peterson in 2006.  He made a name for himself, and the Broncos, and then bolted for Washington and the Pac-12 after the 2013 season, just an eight year tenure.  But look at the Broncos now.

How about Boston College? Some would call that a "destination" job?  Jack Bicknell was there for ten years, through the 1990 season, the Doug Flutie era. But BC only had one coach over the next 25 years who lasted more than four years: Tom O'Brien.  So much for destination jobs.  And if someone wanted to come here for five years, build something, then move on?  I'm okay with that.  Just leave it better than you found it and do it the right way.

About those up and comers....

A lot of people around here have thrown out the name PJ Fleck as an option should Flood be fired.  He's a guy with ties to Rutgers, having coached here.  He's had some pro experience.  And he's tearing it up as the HC at Western Michigan, but only starting his third season.  He's recruited the daylights out of the area, he's energetic, he's winning.  But is he the next great thing or, as CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd states, just passing through.  Dodd makes an interesting point about Fleck and a lot of other coaches just below the biggies:

Since 2009, more coaches have been fired in the MAC (11) than in any other FBS conference. The conference that boasts the cradle of coaches -- Miami (Ohio) -- is also a black hole of sorts for the profession at the moment.

Those 11 coaches lasted an average of less than four seasons and were a combined 155 games below .500.

Fleck is the youngest coach in FBS.  Rutgers had that with another coach a few years ago with interesting results.

Final thoughts

In John U. Bacon's new book, Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football, he tells the story of how college football's most successful, richest and respected program almost lost all three in less than a decade - and entirely of its own doing.  D1.Ticker, a Twitter account dealing with such matters, has been highlighting selected passages.  And a recent one seems very prophetic:

The question for Rutgers might be who gets to live in our village.