On Sunday, my favorite OTB Managing Editor, Aaron Breitman, tweeted that Greg Schiano is now tied for second in wins as RU's head coach. He is just four wins behind Frank Burns.
And then all heck broke out. I replied, "And consider how much Burns did with far less support than what's out there today." And then Aaron replied.... Nah, you can look at it yourself.
Aaron's point was that Schiano is getting it done. No doubt. My point was that Burns did too, but without the resources - money, facilities, etc - that Schiano has. Hell, I'd go so far as to say that Schiano's current salary is likely about the entire football budget under Burns.
Burns took over the program in 1973 and over the next 11 seasons shepherded the Knights to an undefeated record in 1976 and its first ever bowl game in 1978, the Garden State Bowl versus Arizona State. Historic factoid: Rutgers next bowl game in 2005 would also be against those same ASU Sun Devils in the Insight Bowl!
Burns took the Knights from being a smaller-time Eastern independent into the "bigger time", including putting a scare into Bear Bryant in a 17-13 loss to then-No. 1 Alabama in 1980. He recorded 78 wins during 11-game seasons, not the current 12. That included five straight 8+ win seasons. The W-L record tailed off in the last few years as the competition got stronger and Rutgers didn't improve facilities, scholarships, or other amenities. In his first season, Burns' 6-5 team faced only two teams that today would be considered FBS: Air Force and Connecticut. But during his last season in 1983, Colgate and William & Mary were the only FCS teams left. That last team went 3-8.
Burns went 78-43 in those 11 seasons for a .645 winning percentage. That's considerably better than Rutgers' overall .495 win percentage for it's 152 years of play. By comparison, Schiano is one game over .500 at 74-73 in 11 full seasons plus this and last year. He's also had 147 games compared to Burns' 122. And, yes, I know that Schiano came in to clean up 17 years of mediocre to awful coaching from Dick Anderson (27-34) to Doug Graber (29-36) to Terry Shea (11-44).
But, I'll still put Frank Burns' record and coaching ability up against anyone Rutgers has had leading the team, including Saint Greg. It's why I felt so strong about recognizing Burns when I wrote a post five years ago that the field at the stadium should be named for him. I still do! He's in the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame, he's a Loyal Son, he's in the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni, and he was a really important part - dare I say a legend - of Rutgers football.
And Aaron, you know we ain't fightin'. We're just comparing notes.