How was your Sunday? Mine was going great. The weeks working in the city are long and my time at home is precious. I made my daughter breakfast, gave my wife some much needed rest and then we went holiday shopping all afternoon. We had a great day together. Even saw a rainbow from our backyard deck after a day long rainstorm. It was a special moment. And then the news that Greg Schiano didn’t reach an agreement with Rutgers to return as head coach, my phone blew up and one thought kept resonating in front of my mind, other than being angry my beautiful Sunday was interrupted: Of course the Schiano deal fell through because this is Rutgers.
There has been a multiple reports with perspectives from both sides as to why negotiations ended without Schiano and Rutgers agreeing on a deal for him to return as head coach.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports broke the news first, reporting the following:
“Rutgers officials interviewed Schiano on Nov. 5 near Columbus, Ohio, and he’s been the prohibitive favorite to return to the school where he coached from 2001 to 2011. During that meeting, Schiano detailed a list of potential expenditures that he felt would be the minimum for the school to become competitive in the Big Ten East. This included staff salaries, support staff salaries and facilities upgrades — areas where Rutgers is lagging far behind its Big Ten peers.”
“Although they went deep into discussions this week, Schiano wasn’t going to accept job parameters that he felt wouldn’t give him a realistic chance to win in the conference. The sides couldn’t come to an agreement over multiple facets of the negotiation. While Rutgers was willing to increase support significantly from its current levels, it wasn’t to the threshold that Schiano saw as necessary.”
“A source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said that Schiano’s salary was not one of the hold-ups. He was slated to be paid among the bottom three head coaches in the Big Ten. The source added that Schiano made concessions from many of his initial asks.”
Brett McMurphy of the Stadium reported the
“Rutgers was prepared to offer Schiano an eight-year, $32 million deal – of which $25.2 million was fully-guaranteed – and an additional $7.5 million annually for his assistant coaches and support staff, a source said. This would have put Rutgers in the upper-half of the Big Ten in salaries, but a significant gap remained between Schiano and Rutgers, a source said,”
Steve Politi wrote the following:
“Schiano, according to multiple sources familiar with the Nov. 5 meeting between the two sides, came armed with a scouting report of the current roster that stunned people in the room and a list of more than 100 potential targets in the transfer portal to jumpstart the rebuild. He had already started recruiting, behind the scenes, to salvage a 2020 class that looks like a hopeless cause now.”
So I think it’s fair to conclude the following based on these specific reports:
Rutgers offered a significant commitment towards Schiano, while Schiano’s preparedness gave the impression he was serious about returning.
So why did the two sides fail to reach an agreement?
More details and spin from both sides will inevitably come out in the coming days, but at the end of the day, whoever’s fault it was, whether you lay the blame at athletic director Pat Hobbs, BOG member and athletic committee chair Greg Brown, the Board of Governors, Schiano himself, the media, the fans (yes it happened) or Mr. Magoo himself, the reality of what happens now is the most important and most troubling.
Rutgers is the worst power five program in college football, has had two months since firing former head coach Chris Ash and is now back to square one in the search to replace him. That in and of itself, is an awful and unacceptable predicament to be in.
Add in that public view is now even worse after the perceived mishandling of the Schiano negotiations and whether Rutgers is truly committed to fostering a winning football program in the Big Ten will be questioned even more so now. Worst of all, the Rutgers fan base is in true riot mode, as social media and pleas from big donors pledging to never give another ounce of support or dime to the school again is being blasted everywhere you turn online. The fans have officially turned on Hobbs and its hard to imagine how he will ever be able to recover from this, however fair or unfair that is.
Where Greg Brown falls in this mess is largely unknown, but he certainly deserves blame as well. He has been a great asset to Rutgers over the years and incredibly generous along with his wife as big donors. However, as I wrote Saturday when things were really feeling shaky, he was intimately involved in the hiring of Ash and the courtship of Schiano. He is the conduit between the AD and the Board of Governors. Brown has been a highly successful businessman, but he continues to fail at restoring Rutgers football.
The fallout of the failed deal with Schiano hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. There will be key players on the current roster that transfer out and soon. Season tickets will plummet even further and the RFund is going to face a major uphill battle with fundraising, even more so than they have in the past year since football has been truly hopeless. Former players will be even more distant, at least in the immediate future and are voicing their displeasure as well.
There could be an even worse side effect to this , one that should make Rutgers fans physically ill.
As I’ve been hinting all along during this search when people claim Schiano has no other options, there is a doomsday scenario that could manifest soon. If and almost at this point, it feels like when Boston College fires Steve Addazio, Schiano will absolutely be a candidate to replace him. The current AD Martin Jarmond was the former assistant athletic director at Ohio State and crossed paths with Schiano while he served as defensive coordinator. His former communications right hand man in Jason Baum is there as well. Of course, Schiano might not get that job, but what if he does? He will be a far bigger and far sharper thorn in the side of Rutgers on the recruiting trail in New Jersey than Addazio ever was.
The most important question is what will Rutgers do now in finding its next head coach? There is an outgoing President with Dr. Robert Barchi set to retire at the end of this academic year in May. Hobbs own future is in question with the outside investigation that Barchi ordered in regard to the softball abuse scandal that erupted in October. This uncertainty will raise serious questions for any serious candidate. Especially when McMurphy included a source throwing Schiano under the bus from his article:
“The timing wasn’t right for Schiano, and this is the Big Ten: Whether it’s Rutgers, Penn State or Michigan, head coaches need to be all-in for their job if they’re going to have success,” a source said.
“You can’t take this position with ‘the glass is half empty’ culture. Rutgers fans deserve more.”
“You can’t blame Rutgers for not allocating more money or the Board of Governors for being concerned about his unprecedented request and the financial impact of the contract,” a source said. “And you can’t blame Schiano for not wanting to go back to a job he’s already done. Been there, done that. No one wants a New England Patriots situation.”
“Can you imagine if Schiano reconsidered and resigned from Rutgers after accepting the job?” a source said. “It wouldn’t be good for the kids, coaches, recruiting or winning. It’s good, everyone was all above-board.”
This is bush league slander from someone connected to Rutgers and this makes them look horrible. Whether there is any truth to it doesn’t matter, it’s low brow behavior. It sounds like a scorned lover that is trashing their ex to everyone. It’s juvenile and deplorable. The only thing the source got right is that Rutgers fans, every one of them now officially labeled suffering, short or long term, deserve better. Much better in fact.
It’s another stain on Rutgers being properly equipped to grasp the reality of big time college athletics. The administration gladly accepted the invitation to join the Big Ten, but still fails to understand the reality of what that means. The $4 million per year salary for Schiano would have been equal to Illinois head coach Lovie Smith, who in his fourth season is taking his program to its first bowl game in years and will certainly receive a raise soon. That per year salary would only be ahead of Indiana’s Tom Allen ($1.8 million but due a raise as well) and Maryland’s Mike Locksley ($2.5 million). The idea of branding Schiano unworthy of a salary that still ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten is fuzzy math at best. Yes the 8 years guaranteed is a lot and abnormal, but when you oversee a football program that has gone 13-46 the past five seasons and endured multiple scandals, you don’t play chicken with who has more leverage.
Whether Plan B candidates such as already interviewed Butch Jones, or previously mentioned Joe Moorhead, a combination of the Campanile brothers, or new names like Ohio State co-DC and former Schiano assistant Jeff Hafley, or Los Angeles Rams assistant Jedd Fisch, or a host of others that NJ Advanced Media’s James Kratch reported that Rutgers may pursue, whoever takes the job will have a major uphill battle on multiple fronts.
No candidate offered the built in advantages and instant impact on the recruiting trail, as well as the potential to energize and unite the fan base the way that Schiano would have. I’ve questioned how successful he would ultimately be at Rutgers in his return in the long term, but there should have been zero questions about the positive benefits he would have provided the program in the immediate to mid-term future. There is no perfect candidate and Schiano certainly wasn’t. He isn’t the only coach who can win at Rutgers. However, whoever does get the job will start farther back from the starting gate from where Schiano would have begun. That in and of itself is an unquestionable loss for Rutgers.
It’s a recoverable situation, but arguably the hardest power five job in college football just got harder, simply because the new coach will ALWAYS be compared to Schiano. Is catching lightning in a bottle as the best hope of finding a coach who can completely turn around Rutgers realistic? Maybe, maybe not. The search started with Hobbs talking about wanting to go to a Rose Bowl and only considering candidates with head coaching experience. The goal should have always been about regaining respectability that the program once had during the Schiano era and in that sense, Rutgers HAD to get the deal done with him to ensure its best chance to do so. They failed, regardless of why, that’s the biggest takeaway.
There is still time, but if this search goes into mid-December and other candidates have walked away, Rutgers will be even more of a laughingstock in college football circles. That seems hard to believe for a program that’s lost 22 straight games to power five opponents and 20 straight in Big Ten play, but seeing a rainbow in my backyard is now far more realistic than Rutgers producing wins on or off the football field anytime soon.