The Ash Era is over. Ash is a good dude, I wish him well, and I have no further words on that, but you can read my most recent thoughts on Rutgers Football under Ash here which has aged wonderfully. Anyway, Rutgers has actually gained a few positive respectability points by making the gutsy decision to fire a head coach mid-season in spite of the buyout cost. Of course we’re still about negative -1000, but hey finally, actual progress! Surely though Rutgers is going to learn from this terrible situation and try to make up for being garbage for four years and pull out all the stops. We should be able to assume we’re throwing out a competitive salary which we can totally afford with our rightfully pissed off donors, and top persuasion skills from our resident lawyer Athletic Director Pat Hobbs who should be ready to work hard and really try and sell Rutgers and all that it offers (Big Ten, great recruiting ground, new facilities, etc) to an established and RECENTLY proven head coach. Someone that’s gonna make College Football fans across the country go, “Oh daaamn, look at you go Rutgers. What a great hire.”
So... yes. Schiano is rumored to be the front runner for the next Rutgers head coach, and I also have it on good authority that he WILL be the next Rutgers head coach from the same people that told me Ash was going to get fired before the season ended. While almost anyone is better than Ash (at this point in time) this assumed hire is incredibly incredibly LAZY.
I’m not repeating anything new that I didn’t say or Retweet on Twitter, but for those who don’t follow me, I've put the summary in list form. A compilation of my own and others' takes.
- I firmly believe Schiano cannot compete in the Big Ten. The current Big Ten is a totally different beast from the pre-2011 Big East.
- He can’t defend the spread offense which, by the way, is what much of the Big Ten uses.
- He’s a 100% defensive guy, when the modern landscape of college football seems to be rewarding offensively minded teams and Rutgers also primarily has offensive problems.
- See Randy Edsall.
- He plateaued towards the end of his Rutgers years and this plateauing is even worse when you consider that College Football was far easier then (especially by that point when most of the Big East heavyweights had already left).
- Him leaving for greener pastures is arguably the reason Rutgers is in our current mess and I personally don’t think he deserves to be welcomed back with open arms the way the nostalgic Rutgers fans will welcome him, but hey maybe that's a personal thing I should get over, huh?
- Schiano majorly struggled in his early years at Rutgers, so now with Rutgers having struggled for the past four, we’re supposed to wait for Schiano to once again rise up in, again, a brutal conference and CFB landscape? So, what, we’ll reach a 6-6 season in another 3-4 years? Are you serious?
- This has the potential to tarnish the Schiano memory for Rutgers fans, and the Rutgers memory for Schiano. This would be sad all around.
- RANDY EDSALL.
- He won’t have been a head coach anywhere in like seven years when 2020 rolls around.
I just... god. Even when Rutgers does something right, Rutgers can’t follow through and continue doing the right thing. Rutgers has a chance to do something shocking and amazing and they’re gonna blow it by going fully predictable and lazy and I thought Hobbs and the Board of Trustees were better than this. And yes, I know that would be hard given the rock bottom hole we’re in, but jeez at least try. Hiring Schiano back IS a lazy and there is an incredibly high probability of this backfiring and making us suck for yer another five years. Regardless, there are some positives that Schiano would bring:
- An increase in season ticket sales from new coach excitement and the nostalgic glory days Rutgers fans (but I don’t see how that matters to immediate actual wins vs losses which we NEED).
- A guy who knows Jersey and who NJ high school coaches will definitely get behind with regards to recruiting, but there are caveats to how much that will actually matter, but this is a major positive.
- He’s potentially a good bridge coach to help us achieve more respect than Ash ever could where we can knock on the door of a more elite coach in a few years.
- A solid culture and tradition and while those aren’t everything, they were good when he was here.
- The Rutgers Football alums in the NFL might be happy to be associated with the program again which is a big plus for recruiting and program image.
- If he sucks on round 2, Rutgers fans will finally shut the hell up about Schiano.
And if Schiano can hire some good offensive coaches and a defensive coordinator that can help actually defend the spread offense, maybe we stand a shot. But right now, Schiano only actually promises ONE outright thing:
A nostalgic name brand to lead Rutgers Football.
He doesn’t promise excellence, he doesn’t promise bowl games, he doesn’t promise wins in the modern college football landscape, and you’re lying to yourself with nostalgia clouding your minds if you think otherwise, @ pro-Schiano Rutgers fans. However, it’s wins that we need. Rutgers needs someone that can get us WINS. Not ticket sales, not tradition, WINS, the former two follow the latter. That’s how football works when you build it ground up. Sure yeah, that’s how Schiano did it the first time, but right now there is so little that suggests he’ll get us those wins again and soon which is the other part of this equation. Those upfront ticket sales and tradition that he’ll bring are gonna become real "meh" when we can barely crack 5 wins (if that) over the next few years, which is VERY LIKELY.
The rest of the Off Tackle Empire writing staff has great takes on both the Ash firing and potential Schiano hire. Please heed them Rutgers fans and someone share this write-up with Pat Hobbs. Rapid reactions below from OTE below.
WhiteSpeedReceiver: I think Schiano is a terrible choice. You’re reaching back for a guy who was the coach in a different era for Rutgers, and things have changed quite a bit. He’s shown recently that he’s not that great of a defensive mind for the way that college football has changed over the past decade, and his glory days at Rutgers were from the Big East. You know who else got hired to try to rekindle the magic for a Big East team in a new, bigger conference? Bobby Petrino. And how did that go again?
BRT: I think Schiano is ok. It may have been the condition of donors who have come up with needed money. Realistically, this is a super tough hire for Rutgers--they’re abysmal, and play in a tough division, and it’s unlikely anyone is going to make them into a superpower. It’s a risky job--I won’t go so far as to say it’s toxic, but it might seem that way to many, especially anyone with head coaching experience. So someone who knows Rutgers, the area, has some head coaching experience, AND who is interested in the job... well, I can see why this is appealing to the AD.
MMWildcat: Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Randy Edsall at UConn. Greg Schiano at Rutgers.
All we learn from these hires, actual and rumored, is that there’s a desperate dearth of critical thinking among the football schools of the Old Big East, and that we are going to watch as the albatross around our collective Big Ten neck will remain...well, albatrossy.
It’s doubly surprising given what we thought we knew about Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs -- that a forward-thinking but realistic steward of Rutgers Athletics would ignore the slow-but-steady progression toward respectability Steve Pikiell has brought to Scarlet Knights hoops, passing on the chance to go after a similarly-flashy but -low-wattage option like Buffalo’s Lance Leipold in favor of a retread.If this is a donor thing, as BRT suggests, then I can both understand it and roll my eyes at a school like Rutgers letting a donor(s) run its program. But at its most basic level, this is a white flag from a program that has realized it cannot compete in the Big Ten and has to hope that it can catch lightning in a much smaller bottle. Godspeed, Rutgers.
MCClapYoHandz: I don’t know if this is even good, but it’s certainly not bad. Short of inflicting major sanctions, how could it be? This program is the worst in the conference and miles behind almost everyone else, at least this way they can recruit with a fresh coach instead of a guy no one believed would be around. I don’t know if Schiano can turn Rutgers around, but if you have to ask, “Who can actually make Rutgers good?” at least Schiano is a person that can say hey I’ve done that before.
87Townie: Rutgers needs to elevate an existing small school HC, rather than go for some retread. Kansas State went out and got Kris Kleiman, who was a world beater at North Dakota State. I’m a fan of Frank Solich at Ohio and Lance Leopold at Buffalo. But I think Rutgers would do well to elevate a guy like that. Rather than try to take a position coach or coordinator and ask them to learn to be a HC on top of rehabilitating Rutgers’ situation.
Candystripes: I think Schiano is a step back in time for Rutgers, but if he can return to the form that he had in his last stint, he might be capable of bringing the Scarlet Knights back to at least respectability, which is a big jump from their present form.
Stew: This is a lazy choice, that will likely be end up poorly. Yes, he’s likely a step up, but the ceiling is incredibly limited. He might, MIGHT, get rutger back to a bowl in a few years. But that’s probably it. If this is a move to just some stability and move the floor from 1-2 wins to 4, ok. But what the hell kind of goal is that? Chris Creighton is right there, fergodssake!
Beez: Good for Rutgers. It takes guts to can a guy in mid season, and the only thing worse than being a terrible program is keeping things the same for a minute longer than necessary.The B1G raids NJ every year for their best players. If a new HC can keep even 1/4 of the NJ talent at home, that’s at least a serviceable team.Just don’t take Jim Leonhard
Andrew Kraszewski: If everyone involved here knows that Schiano wants the job - and presumably he’s not getting many calls right now - what’s the harm in looking elsewhere? Maybe the more appealing options like Creighton and Leopoldo tell you to take a hike. Don’t you at least want to ask?As much as Schiano’s track record is defined by his success at Rutgers, he’s also flamed out at every stop since then, including a plum OSU DC job where he had toys to play with that he’ll only be able to dream about in Piscataway. Because make no mistake - this is a completely bare cupboard he’s inheriting, and it’s been well over a decade since he had any apparent advantage over his counterparts on the opposite sideline.Is it impossible for Schiano to reenact his magic for Root? No. Is it more likely for him than it would be for a qualified G5 head coach? Also no! Is there even a candidate alive who’s going to take Rutjeurs from its current spot to anywhere they want to be? Probably also also no!!! So hire whoever and eat at Arbys.
DeadRead: I think that Rutgers and Schiano need each other right now. The ridiculous Tennessee spectacle made him radioactive. If he wants to be a HC again, Rutgers is his best shot. He is a known quantity there and led them to what, in retrospect, seems to be an absurd level of success. Rutgers needs to stop the bleeding and placate....pretty much everyone. I think the head coach at Princeton could be a good choice, he has turned the Tigers into an offensive juggernaut. Of all of the names mentioned he seemed like the one person who could view Rutgers as a promotion - he would move from FCS to FBS. It will be Schiano, though, and if I were in Rutgers’ position I would take him back in a heartbeat.
DJ: Rutgers needed to fire Ash so this is largely unexpected. The timing is curious though: it’s still September. If the dude was on that thin of ice he likely should have been fired last year so there was some semblance of hope for this season./checks schedule. Awesome, I’m sure they’ll come out fired up next week.
Thump: I’m with DJ. I don’t see how ash left any doubt last year, and they saved little to no money by keeping him in the fold this long. One of the reasons that you fire a coach this early though? Give your AD plenty of time to evaluate potential options. You keep Ash after last year, fire him now, then immediately hire Schiano without even looking elsewhere? What are you doing? Wake up, you’re drifting off the highway into a ditch.
Anyway, there you have it. I’m pretty much done with the decisions made by this program since 2011. Rutgers will always be caught Rutgersing. However, I gotta say this legendary commercial from years ago actually does make me HOPE that Schiano coming back does work out because this is freaking awesome (RIP James Gandolfini).