With the season opener against Norfolk State just a day away, Rutgers football is experiencing one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent memory. On Wednesday, a report surfaced regarding the ongoing investigation of whether Coach Kyle Flood had disregarded Rutgers' policy against directly contacting educators. Reportedly, Flood emailed a part time faculty member about the grades of cornerback Nadir Barnwell.
Just 24 hours later, Barnwell and four of his current Rutgers teammates made unwanted headlines again, as the players were arrested after practice by Middlesex County police. Barnwell, Ruhann Peele, Rahzonn Gross, Delon Stephenson, and Dre Boggs were the active players apprehended yesterday, stemming from an April 25 incident. The five players allegedly attacked a group of four people, leaving one nineteen year old male with a broken jaw.
This is the seventh incident of player misconduct resulting in arrest since Flood was named head football coach in January of 2012. While some of the players involved in these off the field issues were recruited by Greg Schiano, Flood has unfortunately had to handle these multiple offenses. The variety of charges brought upon his players range from everything assault, driving while intoxicated, and robbery.
Amidst the turmoil the program is currently going through, there has been increased speculation that Flood may step down from his position, or even be fired. Flood is a "players' coach" who has developed strong relationships amongst his players, as well as the fan base. However, could this style have created an environment of negligence regarding appropriate ways of conducting oneself off the football field? Here's a look at incidents of player misconduct during Flood's tenure:
- June 28, 2012: Just five months after Flood was named head coach, defensive end Michael Larrow was arrested for simple assault and disorderly conduct. Larrow was suspended four games by the team. Larrow would eventually be dismissed from the team in May of 2013.
- June 19, 2013: Defensive back Tejay Johnson was charged with robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal restraint. These charges were eventually lessened to simple assault charges. Johnson was also arrested again yesterday on charges of robbery through investigations that are linked to his former teammates.
- October 27, 2013: Nadir Barnwell, the same player who’s academic ineligibility sparked the pending investigation with Flood, was arrested and charged with DWI and careless driving. Barnwell was suspended for one game.
- May 12, 2014: QB Philip Nelson arrested for first and third degree assault after kicking a man in the head during an altercation. The victim was left with severe brain damage. Nelson was promptly dismissed from the team two days later.
- August 30, 2014: Wide Receiver Ruhann Peele arrested after alleged altercation with a female. Charges were dropped after the victim failed to appear in court twice. Peele was suspended for four games. He was also amongst the players arrested yesterday.
- May 24, 2015: DB Darian Dailey arrested and charged with armed robbery. The team moved swiftly and dismissed Dailey from the team four days later.
- September 3, 2015: Five active players, including Barnwell, who's academic eligibility is at the center of the Flood investigation, were arrested and charged with assault. They are all suspended indefinitely.
As the most recent off the field issues have brought into question Flood's future with the program, I think it is important to compartmentalize these various cases. As mentioned earlier, a number of these players were inherited by Flood by the previous coaching staff, and in each instance, Flood has taken corrective measures towards the player at fault. Also, it is important to note that Flood still has a great deal of support in the locker room (See article here ) I believe it would be premature to call for Flood job at this juncture, but he must take steps towards enhancing a more strict player conduct policy.