The Off Tackle Empire "writers" spend a good deal of time chatting in our team Slack chat. We discuss new article formats, best practices, and argue about pretty much everything. We also occasionally ask good questions.
When the latest Rutgers arrest was announced just hours after the Rutgers Board of Governors announced they would be holding an emergency meeting to discuss "athletics matters and anticipated or pending litigation" OTE "writer" LincolnParkWildcat asked a pretty good question:
Will Flood not coach another B1G game?
It's a question the press has considered ad nauseam, but being asked by someone I respect in the blogosphere, it had a different tone to it. It wasn't the sensationalist ravings of a click-bait driven .com, but an honest question from a friend.
On the one hand, violating an academic policy is serious, though it sounds like his intent was to help the student connect with the professor. It doesn't sound nefarious. That said, this isn't North Carolina. Academics are more important at Rutgers than sports.
On the other hand, the arrests - not just the big one that just went down - but a handful over the past year, are potentially more damaging because they're salacious and headline worthy. It's not like Flood committed the crimes himself, but he's the boss - or Hermann is the boss - and they're head accountable for the actions of their charges.
Further complicating things is the fact that most people on the team, in the community, and in the stands love Kyle Flood. He's a great person and I don't think I've made it any secret that I want him to be the Rutgers coach for a long, long time.
On the other hand, the scuttlebutt is that Julie Hermann is not so enamored with Flood and wants to install her own person at the school's highest profile coaching position. Further complicating matters it that Hermann herself has been on thin ice since her own controversial start at Rutgers. Is she at risk as well?
The more you think about it, the more complicated it becomes. A lot like Rutgers and the State of New Jersey itself.
Every other day I vacillate back and forth over whether Flood should be fired. If this were an SEC or Big 12 school, he wouldn't even be under consideration for termination, but part of the reason its fun to root for Rutgers is that we do things the right way, or at least endeavor to. When we fuck up, we own up to it and clean house. We don't brush things under the rug like good old boys, we take our lumps and move on, trying to improve at each juncture.
While this might result in public ridicule, you can't argue with the results. Rutgers has done the impossible transition from Ivy-like school to big time athletics. It has grown from an all-male teachers college to one of the foremost universities in the world. That kind of growth doesn't come without growing pains.
How many schools go from playing Lehigh and Columbia as your biggest rivals to joining the Big Ten?
That really is the question - deeper than a single coach or AD. It's more a question of the fabric of the university - is this just the new status quo now that we're part of the big time, or can we still be Mr. Magoo's Rutgers?
In about 30 minutes, we may find out.