We’ve waited long enough for B1G 2020, just like Rutgers has waited long enough for football relevance. As such, we’re not waiting for dessert — we’re just diving right in.
We’ll start with some boardwalk popcorn from Johnson’s, an Ocean City institution famous for its caramel corn. Tell us...
- What your boardwalk food of choice would be, and
- About your ideal popcorn recipe: Do you go sweet? Cheesy? The incorrect answer of kettle?
Second, since we’re not waiting for dessert or denouement, let’s dive right into the Greg Schiano era. Zuzu and Ray might be exhausted, but let’s consider some of the short term/long term impacts (like our friends at On the Banks did last December and Zu and Ray certainly covered here) that a Schiano hire might have.
Schiano, you might be stunned to learn, has not coached Rutgers in the Big Ten. So what’s the...
- Biggest adjustment Schiano will need to make from his first term as RU head coach, and
- What should be his timetable for a turnaround? I doubt there are many Rutgers fans thinking Schiano’s hiring has brought immediate bowl eligibility, so let’s not beat that strawman...but let’s get a sense of timeline here.
1. I know nothing of boardwalk food. Hang on a sec.
/Googles Boardwalk Food
I mean, most of this doesn’t look much different from the stuff you get at a County Fair here in the Midwest, which means we probably stole most of it from them. Give me a Funnel Cake and I’ll let my arteries harden that way.
2. When it comes to popcorn, give me a large tub of Chicago-style with the amazing contrast of sweet, carmel corn and cheese corn.
Let’s start with the obvious. Schiano has his work cut out for him. The Big East in the early 2000s is now a mix of Clemson-fodder and the AAC, so it’s going to be a step up. That said, I do think Schiano is probably the right guy to bring Rutgers into some form of respectability. I think the biggest adjustment will be getting talent to compete in the B1G East.
I’d say he’s easily 3 years from getting the talent base established and without looking at the schedule (assuming their non-con schedule is nice and cupcake-y), he could be close to bowl eligibility by then.
LPW: like BMan, I’m also a big fan of funnel cakes. My favorite popcorn is Caramel corn in a tin from Garrett’s in Chicago. Lines for that stuff stretch around the block in downtown Chicago.
The most important thing Schiano needs to have in this rebuild is to be humble and patient, and communicate that to his overly optimistic fan base. He’s in an extremely tough division and it’s probably going to be a lot more physical than teams not named Miami in the old Big East.
He should take the approach that Bill Snyder took at Kansas State in the 80s: assume you’re coaching the worst team in the country and try to do one thing better each day. Recruit hard and try to keep good players from New Jersey home, and he’ll be in bowl games in four years. Look at how Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barnett rebuilt their moribund programs. Also, remember you don’t work at Ohio State anymore.
Jesse Collins: If I can, a cheese/caramel mix is good. Obviously I’m peak-Midwest when I say “Garrett’s please” but it’s so good. What’s better than all of that? That obnoxiously salty popcorn you get at Target so that you can stuff your face and satiate your children while you shop. That fake buttery goodness is delicious. Who knew?
As for Schiano, it’s all about recruiting. I think he’s a league-average/slightly-above-average coach. If he can recruit better than Rutgers has recruited in its B1G stint - which is an incredibly low bar - I’d say we’re looking at probably three years to bowl eligibility. That division is rough, though so nothing is guaranteed. As for the conference adjustment? I dunno, UConn won the Big East so maybe let’s slow our roll a bit on [Schiano’s Big East championship] being a huge accomplishment.
ZuzuRU: For those who don’t know, boardwalk food is pretty much better fair food with some Jersey flair like pizza, Italian, and seafood restaurants. I don’t love most of it, but I do always seek out some fresh seafood typically at the higher end boardwalk oceanfront restaurants.
I like 3 kinds of popcorn—drenched in fake butter, white cheddar flavor, and kettle (sorry, MNW). Depends on my mood.
Anyway. I don’t really think Schiano has to change much. A good recruiter is a good recruiter. Just recruit to the league. In addition to raw talent, something we struggled with under Ash and Flood, is getting size and speed. Get those, and our embarrassing blow-outs will stop.
His time table to <not a doormat> should be three seasons. Two years of his recruits, and developing Ash’s, which has some diamonds, should result in a non-embarrassing, possibly slightly impressive third season, definite bowl eligibility. Our fifth season we should be winning the games we’re supposed to, and surprising a few others.
MNW: This is all terrible. Popcorn deserves butter and salt. Stop ruining a good thing. And if you put kettle corn #1 we’re no longer friends.
My boardwalk food might actually be saltwater taffy. If I’m at a Midwestern fair (RIP), it’s Sweet Martha’s cookies. But if I’m in Jersey, I might just have to smack on some of that pulled goodness.
We’ll talk more tomorrow about Schiano’s offense, but I am curious to see if Schiano can shake off the Neanderball of the Ash Era and do something approaching innovation with some of their athletes, spreading them out and getting them in space. Perhaps take Mohamed Sanu’s 2009 and 2010 seasons in Piscataway as an example of proof he can do it—but regardless, the adjustment will need to be finding an offense that can move the ball. Like, at all.
As for a timeline, I really have to say four years to bowl eligibility. When you’ve got four games every year against Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State, along with a pretty ruthless “pairing” with Iowa for the crossover from 2022-2025, you’re staring at an 0-5 hole in B1G play straight away. That’s gonna necessitate time to build an offensive identity, shore up the obvious weaknesses on defense, and get in playmakers to fit a system, assuming Schiano can create one that stays stable.
pkloa: Nachos probably count as boardwalk food, right? They’re an excellent walking-around food, with just the right amount of mess to let you experience the moment.
I’ll eat a tub of popcorn any time I go to a movie theater, but outside, at a fair, give me some peanuts, jack. I’ve been transplanted to the south for much of my adult life, so go ahead and make those spicy boiled peanuts.
Schiano will need to adjust his own expectations to begin with. Expect effort from every single coach and player, but don’t expect too much excellence yet. Given time and a bit of success, the quality will improve. As to how much time, one B1G win really begins the turnaround, so hopefully no more than two years. Schiano will never win 10 games at Rutger.
WSR: Boardwalk food? Is that what I used to buy from my Monopoly winnings when we used to bet on the game? No? Then I have no clue. But I’ll take a good buttered popcorn with some light salt any time. Even right now when just typing this is building up a sweat.
As for Rutgers improving, the timeline is going to be 3 years if we’re going to see something or not. You’re going to want to see some proof of concept at the end of year two, or there should be concerns.
The “secret” to success in this conference is to build your OL and defense and then just take what you can on offense. I’m sure that the defense will improve (because, I mean...yeah), but they’re going to need to take a bigger jump than I think might be possible. Whether or not they can stabilize the OL will be the key, because there’s usually enough talent around NJ that ends up at B1G schools that could make a difference if they can get everyone enough time to do something.
But as everyone else has said, the biggest downside Rutgers has every year is being in the East. The 2021 crossovers being wisconsin (ugh), Illinois, and Northwestern seem to be more friendly than the 2022 of Nebraska (lol), Iowa, and Minnesota. Friends, that is ugly. But there is one thing you can do to get to a bowl game that you need to do now.
Get out the damn checkbook and buy out every non-conf game you’ve got against a P5 school between now and 2030. Knock that shit off. You take the Glen Mason approach to bowl games, which is “Schedule as many mediocre non-confs as I can and then limp my ass to a 2-6 (now 3-6) record and go to some random bowl and then proclaim my greatness” and you like it. You take every spraytanned guido and guidette that can get their ankle monitor off and you invade the shit out of Detroit or Dallas or wherever the hell you go and wild.
And you love every damn second of it, because why the hell not?
What’s your IDEAL popcorn?
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Plain butter and salt, no frills, no fuss.
Caramel corn on the boardwalk.
I would like to have cancerous cheesy corn dust on my fingers for the next 48 hours.
One of those 5-gallon tins of Chicago Mix, which I shall proceed to eat in its entirety.
The salt lick that is Target (or generic mall) popcorn.
My own secret artisanal blend of herbs and spices which includes ghee and Himalayan pink salt and the tears of a virgin which I will share with you now in the comments (note: selecting this option is a binding contract—you have to share. We’re lawyers).
What’s your ideal Rutgers bowling method?
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Just let Schiano do his thing—recruit, baby!
Offensive adjustments, defensive stability. Borrrrrrrring.
The Glen Mason Method
How many years does Schiano’s Rutgers Rebuild take?
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1: Bowling in 2020, baby!