Well, Rutgers fans, there's good news and there's bad news. First, the bad: The ubiquitous stories this morning anointing Mario Cristobal as your new head coach? Yeah, sorry about that, but… on second thought, he's going to go ahead and pass on that offer to stay at Florida International. Cristobal was a natural fit to replace Schiano, and by all accounts was in the fold. So, bummer.
Anyway, the good news: At least you still have the second-closest you could get to a Greg Schiano clone tonight in longtime offensive line coach Kyle Flood, the interim head coach in the wake of Schiano's exit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, who accepted the full-time job after talks with Cristobal broke down this afternoon. Flood, 41, originally joined Schiano's staff as Cristobal's successor as o-line coach in 2003, and has spent the last four years — four of the best in the history of the program, all things considered — as assistant head coach.Well, it's relatively good news, depending on your perspective. In terms of resumé, Flood has never been a head coach or even a coordinator, and has never coached at another big-time FBS program. (Before arriving at Rutgers, he was the offensive line coach at Delaware, Hofstra and Long Island University-C.W. Post.) In terms of timing, athletic director Tim Pernetti and the Rutgers administration were under pressure to name a coach by Wednesday, Feb. 1, the day recruits will begin faxing in their letters of intent. They were also under some pressure from the academic side to hold off on hiring a full-time coach until a new university president is named later this summer, which raises the question of just how permanent Flood's promotion is beyond salvaging the recruiting class and holding down the fort for the 2012 season.
But those are fairly distant questions. In the meantime, Flood's first job is keeping the current crop of prospects in the fold while also attempting to woo the top player in New Jersey, five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton, after losing two other instate targets (UCLA-bound quarterback Devin Fuller and Colorado-bound cornerback Yuri Wright, both top-100 types according to Rivals) to Pac-12 schools since Schiano's departure. If Hamilton is as good as the hype suggests, he may be worth a hasty hire in the name of stability. If Flood is in it for the long haul, he'll have to keep the traditionally indifferent coffers open after a decade of vastly increased football spending (and more than a little red ink) that didn't sit well with everyone on campus.
That's Flood's real challenge — continuing to build the program now that the man who built it into a bona fide I-A operation is gone and the fans are far less enamored than they were a few years ago by the prospect of going to the BBVA Compass Bowl — and it's much bigger than any recruiting class. If it plans to continue competing for blue-chips, Rutgers has to find a way to keep coming up with green.
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- Greg Schiano