September 07, 2009
Well, Rutgers had its day, won a couple bowl games, and that was fun. But I'd say the egg the Knights laid in front of the country tonight officially moved them from "respectable/on the brink of good," to "totally regressed," and with that Greg Schiano's viability as a hot prospect for bigger jobs gasps its terminal breaths.
That was almost exactly a year ago, after the Knights were eviscerated at home by up-and-coming North Carolina, 44-12, on a Thursday night; that was one week after RU was hammered at home in its Labor Day opener by Fresno State and one week before quarterback Mike Teel capped an 0-3 start by smacking a teammate after a loss to Navy. The first half of the season went on like that, with the Knights sinking into a 1-5 hole before rattling off seven straight wins to eke out there third straight winning season and keep the Schiano Hope alive.
So I don't know that I can say with such authority again that the egg the Knights laid in front of the country this afternoon officially moved them from "respectable/on the brink of good," to "totally regressed," and that with that Greg Schiano's viability as a hot prospect for bigger jobs is gasping its terminal breaths. But it certainly looked that way: Cincinnati -- only a mediocre offense last year, even by Big East standards -- scored on seven of eight drives through the first three quarters, on marches of 81, 62, 63, 71, 58, 92 and 85 yards; the Knights' only stop, an interception early in the second quarter with the game still well within reach at 10-7, was immediately returned to become the first of six straight Bearcat touchdowns. It was an utter evisceration, and any comeback charge this time will apparently be led by a true freshman quarterback (Tom Savage, who had a respectable debut with the game completely out of reach in the second half) instead of a senior with the best receiver in the Big East at his disposal.
That's not to take anything from Cincinnati, which looked frighteningly efficient on offense and proved again coach Brian Kelly's immensely underrated ability to develop quality quarterbacks -- former fifth-stringer Tony Pike looked like Tom Brady with 362 yards and three touchdowns. Even the spanking new defense kept RU off the scoreboard on 10 straight possessions. Looking at the rest of the Bearcats' schedule, they're plausibly favored in every game, if this was any indication. But with Rutgers, right now, there are no conclusions.