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Rutgers fans, everything will be okay

All will be well without Greg Schiano, and this was probably for the best. Yes. Really.

Welcome. Before we begin, here’s a gif to get you into the state of Rutgers Football as it currently stands. I will attempt to extinguish some of this in this write-up.

On Sunday, November 24th in the midst of Rutgers’ dead in the water 150th season, shockwaves were sent through the Rutgers and New Jersey communities when it was announced that Rutgers and Greg Schiano could not come to an agreement for the Rutgers Football head coaching job after nearly three weeks of negotiations. The story was first broken by Pete Thammel on Yahoo. The reaction was swift with incredibly scathing takes and written pieces on both Rutgers leadership and Schiano in the aftermath. This particularly scathing one from Steve Politi says Rutgers “should just go back to playing Lehigh and Lafayette,” paints a painful picture of how prepared Schiano was recruiting-wise in his Nov. 5 interview, and basically in sum says that Rutgers needs a new Athletic Director and clearly isn’t taking its pursuit for Big Time football seriously, and should consider forgetting said pursuit. While I found most of the piece over the top and unfairly harsh, I do understand the sentiment that in not hiring a THE former successful coach beloved by the fanbase and even the state of New Jersey who had a set of specific “winning demands,” it signified apathy, indifference, and lack of commitment from the Athletic Director and Board of Governors. Basically the idea that Rutgers is not, in fact, “all in,” on big time football.

Firstly. I disagree vehemently with these takes and the only reason they exist is because Greg Schiano’s name is involved. Any other coach’s negotiations falling through (except maybe Urban Meyer) would have elicited a fraction of the reaction that this has. You see, this is what happens when a fanbase has a coaching or leadership figure that did great by the program and has gained worship throughout the base. This effect isn’t just at Rutgers of course, and this is not me faulting fans for that. What Schiano did for Rutgers can’t be thanked enough. It’s mostly thanks to him we are in the Big Ten. It’s also thanks to him we are in this beyond embarrassing situation now. I’m not talking about the negotiations falling through, I’m talking about when he left Rutgers to ultimately bomb out of the NFL in Tampa. But I digress. Schiano and Rutgers have apparently been working up to this reunion for months with it now being revealed that Schiano didn’t take the Patriots DC job because he was working up to the Rutgers one. So yes, this is all quite embarrassing and shameful.

However, this is past now. I doubt anything drastic will happen to reverse this mutual separation and despite Rutgers fans’ angry demands to have Pat Hobbs fired, that’s not going to happen either. I’ve seen comment after comment and Tweet after Tweet that Rutgers Football is doomed to an eternity of mediocrity over this non-hire when we don’t even have the next coach in place yet. Absolutely mind boggling. SO looking forward, for the Rutgers fans who are receptive to healing and looking ahead, the rest of this article is for you. To the ones who will forever be angry about Schiano not being hired, are actually BURNING their Rutgers gear, saying they’re “done” with Rutgers, and won’t give the next guy a chance, the below gifs are for you.

Moving on.

Rutgers dodged a bullet

Yes, really. With most Rutgers fans being in the New Jersey area most fans are immersed in Rutgers and Jersey-centric news and it’s hard to detach yourself from the regional bubble. In the region Greg is on a pedestal (for those that were around to form a memory of him in his prime years). Well, as someone who both lives in Los Angeles and writes for a shitty Big Ten site, I can provide that separated eye. I’m telling you Rutgers fans, much of the country who is not associated with RU or New Jersey thinks this is the better outcome for Rutgers. The Los Angelino CFB fans I’ve discussed football with, many who have been CFB fans for decades, upon telling them that Schiano was probably going to be Rutgers’ coach the reaction was near unanimous:

“Lol, really?”

Upon posting this idea on Twitter, I received reactions from very Jersey Rutgers fans saying, “No one knows what’s good for Rutgers except Rutgers!” and, “People are clueless about Rutgers’ needs, who cares what they think!” These thoughts show a strange and negative element about many Rutgers fans in that some have this borderline disturbing us against them mentality, these “woe is us” “no one understands our struggles,” views and are closed off to constructive criticism. This is demonstrably false. Look around the college football world. Look at the shining underdog teams in the Big Ten this year. Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota. In fact, we would do well to listen to those who follow actually winning teams and improved teams. I have seen minimal Big Ten fans who think Rutgers has made a mistake here.

The below are thoughts from some of OTE’s writing team:

Andrew Kosciuszko, Michigan State writer: Other than his recent track record indicating his run at Rutgers was a both a miracle and a mirage, Schiano’s history also suggests he’s an unbelievable egomaniac who would’ve walked into an extremely humbling situation. Turning down $4 million per year when there is not a single other offer out there does not imply the kind of temperament needed to pull this thing out of the ditch, and it’s completely inaccurate to suggest the school was low-balling him. He isn’t worth what he turned down and Rutgers is lucky they can now move on to someone who might actually work out. Basically, don’t give a second thought to a guy who had Ohio State’s talent and gave up 55 to f***ing Iowa, then wouldn’t take $32 million from you. That way lies Maryland. Locksley is 10 times the recruiter Schiano ever was and he’s going to be fired before year 3.

James Snyder, Ohio State writer: Golden boy with proven track record worked out so well for Michigan? If his hiring was so difficult, how bad do you think his tenure would have been?

LincolnParkWildcat, Northwestern writer: The courtship of Schiano from my perspective was just awkward, and honestly, this looks like a blessing in disguise.

Thumpasaurus, Illinois writer: Do you remember the stories coming out of his Tampa tenure? About how nobody respected him there by the end of year 2? That shit’s out there. Then in his only coaching stint in the Big Ten he took an overwhelming level of talent and got dunked on repeatedly.

WhiteSpeedReciever, Minnesota writer: You need to get a young up-and-comer that’s had some experience at a big kid school and understands the structure needed to win in the B1G. Guys that have been an assistant in the B1G and a Head Coach at the G5 level. They’ve made their mistakes on someone’s payroll.

And can’t neglect Ray Ransom, our other Rutgers writer: It’s a bummer, because we love Schiano 1.0, but long-term we’ll be fine. The full rev share is coming and Jersey is still fertile recruiting ground. It’s going to take years to get there, but we’ll get there.

Also, these following Tweets from National sports personalities and their bewilderment at this situation falling through are worth showing.

(Disclaimer: Let it be known that Clay Travis is a P.O.S. and has been a leader in the “NO Schiano because Sandusky stuff,” NONSENSE since Schiano and Tennessee happened and then didn’t.)

There were numerous reports and takes that the salary wasn’t the issue and I believe that, but so then with that I can’t fully articulate why, for some reason that makes this all worse to me. Someone fill in my thoughts in the comments. Also, college football coaches are overpaid, but that’s for another article.

Additionally, and this is a point I am surprised isn’t making the rounds more, full autonomy in a program is un-achievable in 2019. Doesn’t matter who you are. Greg Schiano apparently wanted this and I think that’s one of the big killers in this negotiation, and for good reason. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly anymore. And it especially doesn’t fly at a school like Rutgers which is EXPLICITLY recovering from and is even in the midst of coach-driven scandals. Rutgers fans, do you forget that Greg Schiano is the coach that set up the sketchy host program for recruiting that is part of what got Rutgers two years of probation?

“The NCAA has placed Rutgers on two-year probation and publicly reprimanded and censured the university for failing to monitor its football program over a five-year period between 2011 and 2015.”

2011. That’s Schiano’s last year. And Kyle Flood was his assistant coach. Sorry, but I totally understand why Hobbs didn’t want him back. AD oversight is necessary. It’s how modern programs are (or should be) run. Everyone needs to have accountability. Like, full autonomy? Really? You’re not Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, Greg.


Rutgers can (and was always able to) do better

So now that the numbers Schiano was offered are out there ($24-32 million over 6-8 years, $4 million a year... one of those), we can definitely attract a coach that is enticed by and deserving of it. I’m talking a top G5 coach or NFL assistant making under $3 million a year that is ready to prove themself in a P5 conference. Yes, Rutgers is a daunting job for any coach to undertake, but I promise there are coaches out there willing to take it on. Rutgers HARDLY has the level of undesirability that people say it does. It has the same potential it always had. Fertile recruiting ground, an incoming, soon to be permanent, share of B1G money, a great college degree, and one hell of a media market. This next coach just has to literally do and be the opposite of Chris Ash which shouldn’t be hard at all. A charismatic, young, skilled coach with spunk that fits in New Jersey (even if they’re not from there) who has already shown an ability to recruit and who makes an active effort to connect with N.J. high school football programs. Schiano is not the end all be all here. It is an absurd notion that Schiano is the only coach that can turn Rutgers around. The feelings behind that idea are based purely in memory and dare I say, fear. Fear that Rutgers will mess up the coaching search again and that Greg was THE safe and not risky option. I’m not saying Rutgers won’t botch this next coach, but I’m saying we can take a little risk and have things work out both fine and better than they would have with Greg, a washed up defensive coordinator and NFL burnout.

Some names I’ve seen thrown around for “Plan B,” which shouldn’t even be called Plan B, but rather be called, “the proper plan to ACTUALLY give a look at the broad field of coaches like we should have done in the first place,” include Joe Moorehead, Jeff Hafley, Anthony Campanile, Butch Jones, and even Bret Bielema. I do hope that list expands, but there are sixty-one G5 programs and thirty-two NFL teams and some of you are telling me that Greg Schiano is the only person to make Rutgers Football good and relevant again?

Financial and cultural reality

Optimism aside for a moment, it’s also time for some reality. The following are incredibly important points. Rutgers is still one of the most heavily subsidized programs in the country. Winning at the high level needed to generate BIG dollars outside of the eventual Big Ten share is an uphill battle and in the toughest conference in the country. This isn’t me saying Rutgers won’t win, this is me saying Rutgers may never get that frequent 9-10, maybe 11 win season that other big money programs have. Certainly not enough to justify getting into more debt when, hell, 5 wins aren’t even guaranteed for the next 5 years—by anyone on Rutgers’ radar, not even Greg. So forgive me for understanding why Hobbs and probably a chunk of the BOG aren’t ready to throw millions more onto what is already perceived as a dumpster fire. Greg does not guarantee winning, he only guarantees what can right now be fairly perceived as a gamble, tipping more towards the loss rather than gain of millions. Basically, there was a very real shot that Rutgers would have found themselves in yet another losing state, and big buyout if Greg couldn’t deliver within 8 years, but also immense debt from all of Greg’s other demands. The only football thing Greg would truly guarantee at Rutgers in the year 2020 is season tickets and fan excitement. While valuable, that does not win games.

Also, this excellent write up from Matt Brown, which I highly recommend you read, defends Rutgers on this Schiano situation from varied perspectives including cultural and financial ones, some of which I touched on in the previous paragraph. From the financial side Matt also brings up a very critical point that apparently university administrators across the nation are concerned about a looming recession. So I understand why Rutgers is nervous to build up without the full Big Ten share, and without money back guaranteed in the form of wins which would max out donor support. The latter has always been bad and won’t improve much until we are reaching consistent 8-9 win seasons (which again, Greg did not guarantee).

Culturally speaking, Rutgers does not have the statewide support that other Big Ten programs have. And no, Schiano was not going to bring that. Schiano was only ever going to bring out the people who already had an affinity for and history with Rutgers Football. New Jersey has problems with supporting its state university in its endeavors and always has, and Schiano won’t change that even if he brings out every single last closet and bandwagon Rutgers fan.

Also, to address the facilities take as the reason for Greg backing out, that “Rutgers doesn’t want to construct what it takes to win.” Again, money doesn’t grow on trees, we’re already in a bad financial situation, and we don’t have a full Big Ten share yet and have already taken an advance from the conference. Rutgers already draws the ire of its irritatingly large student and faculty contingent who think we spend too much money on athletics, so the only way these facilities were happening is if someone big (or more than one) was opening their wallet or a ton of donations. The former is a luxury that, sadly, Rutgers has always lacked compared to its peers and the latter has never really gained steamed and certainly isn’t now after this Schiano debacle.

Yes, this still is a bummer, I get that

But that’s because the idea of “SchianONLY” was railroaded from the start. Many Rutgers fans never even gave themselves a moment to consider other possibilities, so potential disappointment was set up from the start. Yes, that disconnect with the current NFL Rutgers players sucks. Yeah it sucks that the local media didn’t get their ideal guy, so now they’ll extra scrutinize everything Rutgers Football does, and they’ve already been brutal to RU over the years. The whole idea that Greg was a master New Jersey recruiter and that he already started recruiting for Rutgers before accepting the job, yes, that sucks and hurts too. But we have to get over it and look forward. Also, I think a lot of Pro-Schiano Rutgers fans overestimate Greg as the only one who can lock down New Jersey recruits. I’ve always had issues with this because, 1) who cares where we get good players from? Top teams sure don’t. 2) Many of Rutgers’ best players throughout Schiano’s tenure were not from New Jersey, 3) New Jersey today for 17 and 18 years olds isn’t “Fuhgeddaboutit” anymore, it’s “Yeerrrr.” Anyone who truly has the ability and desire to recruit can, but it’s not going to be natural just by virtue of Greg being a “Jersey guy.”

Additionally, to address the bad take of Rutgers leaders being apathetic to football once more, of COURSE Rutgers and Hobbs are all in on football. That’s not the problem here. The problem was the person to go “all in” on being Schiano and the financial constraints of going “all in.” We need to go “all in*” *— all in, but within reason.

Sure, maybe it is “directly” Pat Hobbs’ fault, but I don’t think it was a Hobbs ego problem like I’ve seen being said. I think there were various factors at play here, some which I outlined above, and many of which we may never know, but it’s done. People are angry, I get it, I was too—angry that this drama is going to go on longer and that the base is frustratingly split right now at a critical time with recruiting and current players waiting to pull the trigger on entering the transfer portal. Fanbase Civil War isn’t going to help that.

But we don’t even know who the next guy is, yet, so why people are acting like the sky is falling is... I’m at a loss.

Anyway, Rutgers released a statement themselves over the backlash. Tweet below. Despite the simplicity and shallowness of the statement, I really believe this will work out. Rutgers and Pat Hobbs knows they can’t flub this hire. You may think not getting Schiano signifies that they already flubbed it, but it just seems to me that they finally got the “SchianONLY” blinders off to give all coaches a look in order to, as the statement says, hire “the best coach for our student-athletes, our university and broader community.”

So take a chill pill Rutgers fans. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, enjoy that even through all of this embarrassment we’re still The Birthplace of College Football and no one can take that away from us, and if you’re a Rutgers alum remember that your college experience was (probably) more than just football.

Now that the Schiano tunnel vision and railroading is off, who do YOU think is a viable candidate for the Rutgers coaching job? Please let us know in the comments below!