Do you remember the good ol’ days?
Remember when a basketball coach and an AD were fired, the school’s name was dragged through the mud on ESPN every single day and players were transferring out left and right—oh and given waivers to play every single day? And then, the school couldn’t offer anyone a big enough salary to land someone who could actually withstand the years of losing to fix the program? There wasn’t a practice facility—there wasn’t even a hint of the kind of support the program would need to survive. Remember that?
No. Oh, sorry. That was basketball so you may have forgotten.
Okay, let’s try this. Remember when there were academic scandals, a drug scandal, players getting arrested, a coach in disguise and an AD who couldn’t ever say the right thing? Both the coach and the AD were fired and the entire program had to be stabilized? NCAA sanctions were hanging over the school. That was a program in shambles.
The Rutgers football program is bad right now. There’s no other way to put it. They are losing weekly and two players are exploring their options—though they are the two most important players on offense. But this is not an unfixable and dire situation.
This is fixable with the right coach.
Nunzio Campanile is doing the best he can as an interim coach to add some excitement on the field, at least offensively. Yes, two players are playing it safe so they can save what’s left of their careers. The program is losing, often by a wide margin... but this bad program is no different than any other program that is in need of a new coach.
There are a lot of pieces here that Rutgers can point to both for recruiting and hiring a new coach that are selling points. There is a brandy dandy new locker room that players celebrated getting just this summer. There is a beautiful open air practice field that is, by all accounts, one of the best in the country. There is a passionate fan base. And it is a Big Ten Program. And it is in a fertile recruiting area full of good players.
Ten years ago, the only name we knew of was Greg Brown. Now there are some big time donors in the fold like the Garuttis, the Towers and the Rodkins. People who believe in the program and are helping to make it all it can be.
Is it perfect?
Of course not, but it is fixable. And not just by one man. Rutgers fans, don’t pigeon hole yourself into believing that!
Every job has its challenges. But there is movement toward a new field house for indoor training. More money from the Big Ten is coming. And with the right staff there are a lot of people who can fix this job. The Big Ten East is a bear and maybe expectations need to be tempered on that end.
In fact, if only one man can fix it, that is more worrisome than where Rutgers is.
Danny Hurley wasn’t the only guy who could save Rutgers basketball. And I think someone like Jeff Monken, Joe Moorehead or Bob Surace can fix this program. I think they are all smart football minds, who will surround themselves with assistants who know New Jersey and can make inroads on the recruiting trails. There is something as simple as just shaking the hands of the high school football coaches who come to your practices and thanking them for coming. Greg Schiano is not the only person who can do that. There are too many things right about this program for there to be only one out.
Yes, a lot rides on this next hire. And Pat Hobbs should take his time finding that guy. There’s no rush. Rushing has burned Rutgers before.
But Rutgers fans needs to start puffing their chests out a little bit. This is a good job and should be a desirable job. It is one with some much potential and so many new things coming its way.
The foundation—facility wise—is there and money is being raised like never before. Leadership is in place. The other parts of the athletic department are now stable.
Football needs a leader. Maybe it’s Greg Schiano coming back like the prodigal son. Or maybe it is someone else. Someone who can improve recruiting and start to develop talent.
The support pieces are there for success. The next 7 games are likely not going to be fun. But the future should be bright. When Darell Hazell was losing games at Purdue, Jeff Brohm showed up and was able to mold that talent into a bowl bound team the following two seasons. This is not the Terry Shea era Rutgers—in perception or support. This is a Rutgers that has a memory of being bowl bound less than ten years ago.
Yes, it’s not a good program right now. But it is not an out and out disaster. Recruiting and development have to improve, but that is what happens any time any normal old program needs a new coach too. Get a good football mind in here and surround him with a good staff with lots of contacts.
There is a lot to sell here. Things are better than they were when a coach was in disguise and the AD couldn’t stop saying the wrong thing.
Rutgers fans needs to start selling the good points to everyone. Selling the program will help find the right leader.