In what has to be the least-surprising news of the college football season, Rutgers announced Sunday that it had fired Head Coach Chris Ash and Offensive Coordinator John McNulty. TE Coach Nunzio Campanile, who has the most amazing name possible for a Rutgers coach, will be interim coach for the remainder of the season.
For most of us here, this wasn’t really a surprise at all outside of the fact that it took as long as it did. In 3+ seasons in charge of the Scarlet Knights, Ash led the team to an 8-32 record while going 3-26 in the B1G. His last game in charge was a 52-0 shellacking at the hands of a Michigan team that hasn’t been very impressive up to this point. But with the way the landscape of college football has changed with the Early Signing Period in December, athletic directors need to move quickly and decisively to ensure that they’ve got a staff in place to not miss an entire cycle and potentially cripple a program before it can even start rebuilding. Pat Hobbs pulled the plug and has supposedly already been putting out feelers for a replacement. That’s good, right?
Ummmmm...no. According to the spectacularly well-connected Brett McMurphy, there’s already been contact with such coaching luminaries as Greg Schiano, Butch Jones, and Jim Leavitt. if we’re honest, those are terrifying names that are no better than Ash. Schiano is far past his sell-by date, Jones was trash at Tennessee, and Leavitt hasn’t been a HC in a decade since he was fired by USF for abusing a player and then attempting to interfere with the investigation. Keith Sergeant of NJ.com lists Mississippi State HC Joe Moorhead, Buffalo HC Lance Leipold, Pitt HC Pat Narduzzi, and Princeton HC Bob Surace as people on the Scarlet Knights wishlist. That’s far better than McMurphy’s group, but I have a difficult time believing that anyone would leave a P5 job they’ve already got for Rutgers. That leaves Leipold and Surace. Leipold has been a winner at every stop, but we’ve seen coaches fail to make the leap from Buffalo to a P5 job. And going from 1-AA to B1G seems like it’s quite a leap.
We’ll update things as we get more information, and our Rutgers “writers” will weigh in with their opinions when they’ve had time to digest things. But for now Rutgers is a team with an intern Head Coach that was running a dominant New Jersey HS program 2 years ago. Whether or not they’ll be able to make a good decision going forward will be quite fun for fans of the 13 other B1G programs to watch.