Rutgers football head coach Chris Ash has reportedly decided to turn to a coach of program past by hiring former offensive coordinator John McNulty to return to the same position on the banks. Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media reported the news, per sources, on Thursday afternoon.
McNulty was in charge of the offense for Rutgers during the most prolific period in program history between 2006 to 2008. In his first season as OC at Rutgers during the 2007 campaign, he led an offense that was the first in NCAA history to produce a 3,000 yard passer, a 2,000 yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers. The group included Mike Teel at quarterback, Ray Rice at running back, as well as Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood at receiver. McNulty also coached the quarterback position while OC during the 2007 to 2008 seasons and had coached the wide receivers prior to that between the 2004 to 2006 campaigns at Rutgers. He left in 2009 to coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, where he coached the wide receivers. McNulty has been in the league ever since, but appears set to come back to the place where he last worked in college football.
Head coach Chris Ash had emphasized the importance of finding an offensive coordinator that has experience coaching quarterbacks. McNulty does have extensive experience, as he was a quarterbacks coach in the NFL during four seasons between 2012 and 2015 with the Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and most recently, the Tennessee Titans, where he groomed Marcus Mariota.
While McNulty ran a pro-style offense at Rutgers, he was part of a spread offense in coaching Mariota with the Titans. His most recent position was as tight ends coach with the San Diego Chargers the past two seasons. Ash had also said he wanted an OC who had experience with the entire offense and McNulty certainly has that.
Here is what Ash said during the early signing period press conference back in December about the search for the next offensive coordinator:
“First and foremost, a leader, a leader for the staff, a leader for the players,” Ash said. “A guy that can coach the offense and not just the quarterbacks, but a lot of positions and has knowledge of that … But that’s really what we’re looking for.
“There’s not an age requirement at all. There’s not years of experience. There’s not a college, gotta be an NFL guy. There’s none of that. It’s does he have leadership, does he have confidence, does he have character, can he connect with the players, can he develop the quarterbacks, and can he put together the whole offense, the big picture and coach multiple positions, because it is just about coaching the players, but it’s helping coach coaches also on how to get better.
“Whatever individual can make us the best offense, the most productive offense and give us a chance to score points and win football games, that’s what I want.”
“(We’re looking for) someone with great knowledge of quarterback play so we can develop the young quarterbacks that we have, continue to help the returning players in our program and then the young players develop,” Ash said. “That’s a position we have to continue to get better at in our program if we’re going to move forward.”
The 49 year old McNulty, who is a Penn State alumnus, has 26+ years of coaching experience at the college or NFL levels, including stints with Michigan, UConn, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars before his first stop at Rutgers. It seems appropriate that Ash is banking on ending the cycle of revolving offensive coordinators, in which McNulty will make the ninth in nine years, with the man who was the first to begin that cycle.
Adding McNulty back to the program will certainly appeal to his former players at Rutgers from a decade ago, many of whom went on to play or are still playing in the NFL. It also can’t hurt that his former quarterback, Mike Teel, is the current head coach of one of the most prominent high school football teams in New Jersey at Don Bosco.
One fun wrinkle for next season and beyond will be watching McNulty go head to head against his former boss, Greg Schiano, who is currently the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
With as solid a stable of young quarterbacks that Rutgers has arguably ever had in sophomore Johnathan Lewis, as well as incoming freshman Artur Sitkowksi and Jalen Chatman, having such an experienced coach to work with them is an obvious plus. While McNulty hasn’t recruited at the college level in a decade, his NFL roots should certainly be a selling point to prospects.
Dunleavy also reported that other finalists for the job included Louisiana Tech offensive coordinator Todd Fitch and New Hampshire offensive coordinator Ryan Carty. If that was the case, then making the decision to move forward with McNulty seems like the right choice. He has the most experience in having coached in a variety of offensive systems, having coached multiple positions, and proven to be successful at Rutgers in the past. It’s likely he is committed to being here for multiple seasons, something that Ash held as a high priority during the search.
As I’ve written before, this hire is critical for the success of Ash’s tenure at Rutgers and based on the options he appeared to have at the end of this process, McNulty seems to check off the most boxes.
More to come regarding this news, as there has been no official announcement from Rutgers yet.
Do you like the hire of John McNulty as Offensive Coordinator?
This poll is closed
Just okay, but seems like best option Ash had