Starting off the Rutgers Week Potluck with some known things from New Jersey-- Italian food and tomatoes.
Did you know that New Jersey was recently named "best food state by the national gourmet food and wine magazine, Saveur? Anyway, keeping it basic, broad-reaching, but perfected by NJ is a light appetizer of mozzarella and bruschetta and made with Jersey Tomatoes (That mozzarella being straight from M & P Biancamano in Hoboken, of course.)
A light Italian inspired dish made with a state agricultural staple. Does it get any more Jersey than that?
Speaking of Jersey, with this new coaching staff, do you think New Jersey is poised to catapult itself into the national college sports stage through Rutgers (similar to 2006 where we upset Number 3 Louisville and went to our best ever bowl game, but without waning)?
Is the #AshEra the beginning of the end? End being our end goal of being a successful, consistent, winning, well-known team.
Let's hear what answers OTE's esteemed "writers" have for this question.
LPW: I believe it's possible for Rutgers to become a good football program. It will take hard work and a long time, so be patient.
AK: Nnnnnnnno. Biggest reason there would be the competition in the division; whose body does Rutgers crawl over first, and how does it happen? But don't let my lack of faith discourage you. No one would have given MSU a second thought as a power program in 2009, but we've had the conference belt 2 of the last 3 years and there's nothing better than reminding everyone of that when nobody thought it would happen.
C4B: It's super great to be excited about a new head coaching hire. It's super great to be excited about poaching a coach away from a national powerhouse. But as someone who's seen a lot of coaches come and go (and some even from other teams), you can't really project how good any coach will be in year one, and expecting someone who's never actually been the head coach before to come in and be the missing piece is only setting you up for heartbreak or severely inflated expectations. Be excited, but be cautious.
GF: If there is any team that I could be convinced to be a tad bullish on, it's Rutgers. Respected coach + good talent base + hungry fan base = Possible future success.
WSR: I remember when I was excited about a new head coach once. Things were lethargic, and we were ready to shake things up and catapult the program forward. The new coach even had even worked on a national championship squad and was a key component of that team. Sadly, Tim Brewster was shit and the only thing that got catapulted was us into a wall. But hey, we didn't have to play Michigan, MSU, and tOSU every year. Good luck!
JC: I mean, there's a few ways you can look at this. Yes, Jersey is heavy on talent. Coach Ash looks like a good hire. Oh, and like my colleague said, hungry fan base. But here's the thing. I can poke holes in each of those three things. The biggest problem at Rutgers is investment in this team going to the next level. Beating Louisville and the old Big East/American foes is one thing, but those are no longer your peers. To compete, you have to beat Ohio State and Michigan and Michigan State and Penn State and that's just your division. Every team on the other side has more - and spends more - than you right now. Not to mention... you have a first time head coach. As someone who dealt with that, I want you to take a deep breath and give him room to learn how annoying that can really be. Sometimes a first time guy is fantastic, but being in charge of everything is a difficult task. There will be some growing pains, and national prominence is going to take a lot of time.
MNW: I mean, I think a lot of us have been aware for some time that New Jersey is home to lots of in-state talent, ripe for the plucking and exporting to a number of other schools.
Oh, you're asking if Rutgers is the school to bring Jersey there? Nah. I mean, I guess Rutgers is really the only school that could, unless Princeton goes FBS or NJIT starts a football team (they've already eclipsed rutger basketball), but I think any Rutgers fans--and I'm only responding to the question given here--that think that you can just state that Chris Ash is the beginning of the end goal of being that successful, well-known team are plugging their fingers in their ears and shouting "YEAH, BUT THINK OF THE POTENTIAL!" whenever folks point out that their coach is a first-time head coach and their AD is in his first year and they play in the Big Ten East.
This is a long way of saying "Sure, if everything goes right for Rutgers!" But there's likely to be a lot of pain in this building process, and if you do a couple shots and squint reaaaaally hard, maybe you can see averaging 7-win seasons in like, 5-10 years. Welcome to the Big Ten.
Speth: Last I checked Rutgers has won a bowl game more recently than noted Big Ten power Iowa and noted historical Big Ten blueblood Northwestern. (Not to mention Minnesota only has because of the FBS equivalent of a participation trophy) And since those programs are obviously superior to a team like Wisconsin, Rutgers is obviously already Ohio State caliber. In all seriousness, this is a dumb question because Rutgers gets scrutinized but there's only been 3 teams to win a 12/14 team Big Ten. So "Buttgers" all you want, but as it stands your century old membership means nothing and you're not in New Jersey, Indiana/Purdue/Minnesota/Iowa/Northwestern. /Christian McCaffrey scored again.
babaoreally: It's unlikely that Ash can turn Rutgers into a powerhouse program in the meat grinder of the B1G East, but can the Scarlet Knights become a team that hovers around bowl eligibility consistently? Sure, and maybe they can even pull off an 8-4 season every five or six years, but they'll probably have their share of 4-8 as well.
Ray Ransom: Just as fresh Jersey tomatoes (best in the world!) pair with fresh mutz, Chris Ash pairs with Pat Hobbs to form something truly spectacular. Finally, Rutgers has a big-time coach to pair with big-time institutional support. Schiano was big time, no doubt, but the support system was only beginning to approximate a top-tier football program. It's a great time for the school and the team. The future is bright for Rutgers.
That said, I think this year, expectations have to be tempered. Just as Flood found early success with the state of the program that Schiano left for him, Ash is going to have early struggles with the mess that Flood left. While there's legit top-tier talent on the banks, there is a lack of depth that will gut the team down the stretch, especially in the secondary, where arrests and transfers have left us an injury away from another year of starting a true freshman at corner. Ultimately, this year will bring a little improvement and a lot of hope. Next year, more steps. Over the course of the next 5 years though, we're going to start to see the Rutgers end game coming into play. Competing with the best teams in the country on a national level. Going toe-to-toe with the B1G East big dogs. Top-Tier recruiting classes. Top-Tier results.
Getcha popcorn, General Sherman! The Sleeping Giant stirs!
Aaron Yorke: I love how Ash hasn't had a game as head coach of any program ever and we're already comparing him to Greg Schiano, who was one of the best coaches in Rutgers history. Sure, it's possible that Ash turns Rutgers into a national powerhouse that even people in New York who don't care at all about college sports start to notice. It's also possible that he wins six to eight games per year and never breaks into the upper echelon of the Big Ten East because New Jersey kids continue going to college in other places. We just don't know, because Ash has never been a head coach before. He just spent two seasons as defensive coordinator of an Ohio State team that probably would have been just as successful with someone else running the defense. This isn't Michigan hiring Jim Harbaugh or Illinois hiring Lovie Smith, two guys who have a history of success in the professional ranks. This is Chris Ash. We don't know if he's going to be good or not, but it's going to be fun to sit back and watch whatever happens happen.
Stew: Short answer, no. Long answer: LOLNOPE, Buttgers. Nuanced answer: There’s a ton of potential for Rutgers, if for no other reason than access to instate talent. But man, there is a LONG way to go. Rutgers has been about the absolute worst P5 school at performance relative to instate talent for quite a while. Yeah, they are going to get more money to help that, but they are still fighting a huge uphill battle.