Rutgers is lucky. Lucky to be in the Big Ten. Lucky to still be a major-college football program. Lucky, also, to be well positioned after firing Chris Ash on Sunday. Urban Meyer's former defensive coordinator didn't work out, but fortunately for Rutgers, there are a lot of candidates out there with head-coaching experience.
Rutgers hasn't had one of those since Doug Graber in 1995. This is clearly one of the worst jobs in the country, not just among Power Five conferences. It is cruelly ironic that the school that played in the first college football game 150 years ago still hasn't quite figured out success.
The athletic budget is operating in the red. The school is borrowing against future Big Ten earnings to make ends meet. In fact, a report released earlier this year concluded that Rutgers won't get a full Big Ten share … until 2027.
The school will probably have to go further in the red to hire a new staff. Just don't think of the opening as a step up to a Power Five job. It is that in name only.
In fact, there are dozens Group of Five coaches far closer to a New Year's Six bowl than Rutgers.
So who exactly can the Scarlet Knights target, and who will want to take over that has gone 12-40 since the start of 2015? Let's take a look at the top candidates.
1. Greg Schiano, former Rutgers coach: The No. 1 candidate with a bullet. Schiano is literally the only Rutgers coach to have success in modern times, going 68-67 in 11 seasons. He didn't make the cut when Ryan Day was assembling his staff at Ohio State, but his defensive skills are still there. More so, his knowledge of what it takes to win at Rutgers is Schiano's most valuable asset.
Schiano mysteriously left the Patriots as their defensive coordinator in March. I'd still like to know why. Was it because he was anticipating the Rutgers job opening as New England would be finishing its regular season? It still amazes me that Schiano is still a relatively young 53.
2. Butch Jones, Alabama analyst: Jones has been actively trying to get back in since he joined the Bama staff in 2018. His stock has risen considering what has happened at Tennessee under Jeremy Pruitt. Hey, Vols fans, how would you like a coach who won nine games twice, went to three bowls and won 60 percent of his games in five seasons. Yeah, I know you fired him in 2017. Rutgers could do worse than bringing in an experienced coach Jones, who let's not forget went 27-13 at Central Michigan and 23-14 at Cincinnati.
3. Jeff Monken, Army West Point coach: To fill this opening may take some innovation, some outside-the-box thinking, some risk taking. Rutgers has tried everything else, so why not a coach who runs the triple option at a military academy? I'm serious. Monken is responsible for the best run of winning in Army (football) history.
4. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan coach: Guess who has more Big Ten wins the last two seasons than Ash? Creighton got on the national radar with upset wins of Purdue (2018) and Illinois (2019). There are a lot of similarities between Eastern Michigan and Rutgers. Both are/were hopeless losers. Creighton -- the former Drake, Wabash and Ottawa (Kansas) coach -- has made the Eagles respectable again. Eastern Michigan has been to bowls two of the last three years.
4. Bill Clark, UAB coach: The two-time CBS Sports national coach of the year is more than ready to a jump to a Power Five. Clark reconstructed -- not resuscitated -- a program that had been dropped. He has already accomplished the impossible in leading the Blazers to the 2018 Conference USA championship. Clark has done more with less than 90 percent of FBS coaches because -- for the longest time -- UAB just wasn't committed to big-time football. Something tells me he'd turn around Rutgers in a hurry.
5. Jason Candle, Toledo coach: Candle has led the Rockets to three straight bowls as well as winning the 2017 MAC championship. In 2011, Candle was named the MAC's best recruiter. Being able to retain top in-state prospects and make inroads outside New Jersey is key to turning Rutgers around.