The Monday After: Why Rutgers football 'is a Big Ten program in name only'
Plus, who could be the next coach to be fired this early into the season?
I exchanged text messages with two coaches on Sunday following the news that Rutgers had fired Chris Ash. Immediately after the news of Ash's dismissal, it wasn't difficult to put together the obvious pieces of the Rutgers job being open, and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano being available. Hell, it was so easy, even I could do it.
Still, I wanted to reach out to people to get an idea of how attractive the job is as a coach because as a college football writer, it doesn't look all that attractive to me. Based on the answers I received, if Schiano wants the job, Rutgers better not waste any time offering it to him.
One coach I talked to is currently a head coach at a Group of Five school. When I asked him how he would view the idea of taking over Rutgers he responded that he would "have to consider it," but then went on to make it clear that he "wouldn't be climbing over anybody to get it."
The other coach is a coordinator at a Power Five school. He was a bit blunter in his assessment.
"Rutgers is a Big Ten program in name only," he told me. He then went on to tell me about the myriad of problems the new coach would face with the program. He mentioned things like the apathy that surrounds the program. He also said that it would take a lot of work to dig out of the hole its currently in, only to then have to make up even more ground to compete with the top of the Big Ten East.
He did not mention the other problems that CBSSports.com's Dennis Doddfor the vacant position. Dodd wrote that Rutgers' athletic department is already in the red and that it's not going to receive a full slice of that Big Ten money pie until 2027. That means the department will have to go further in debt to hire a new staff, and how much money will it be willing to spend on that new coach and their assistants?
Rutgers is already a difficult sell as it is, but if you don't have the money to overspend, that will likely limit your candidate pool even further.
Which is why Schiano isn't just a natural candidate for the job, but he's perhaps the only one who will take it. And that could be a great thing for Rutgers! Schiano has already shown he knows how to take a Rutgers program out of the depths. The work he did at Rutgers from 2001 to 2011 is what led to him getting a shot in the NFL. What he was able to do at Rutgers is why Tennessee nearly hired him to replace Butch Jones (who, ironically enough, is also a candidate for the Rutgers job). Vols fans revolted over the idea, but odds are Rutgers fans won't.
Schiano was a defensive coordinator at Ohio State for three seasons before leaving to become the defensive coordinator for the New England Freaking Patriots. A job he left for reasons unknown in March. There's speculation that Schiano left the Patriots because it had been made clear to him that if the Rutgers job opened, it was his for the taking.
If that's the case -- hell, even if it isn't! -- stop wasting everybody's time, Rutgers. Hire him now.
Hottest Seat of the Week
Had it not been for his buyout, odds are Chris Ash would have been let go following the 2018 season. That's why nobody is surprised that Ash is the first coach to be fired this year, though the timing may have caught people by surprise. Who might the next coach be? Well, on Saturday, South Florida lost at home to SMU 48-21 to drop the Bulls to 1-3 on the season. The lone win came against South Carolina State. The losses have come to Wisconsin, Georgia Tech (which just lost to Temple 24-2) and now SMU. The losses have come by a combined score of 111-31.
Charlie Strong is 18-11 in his third season at South Florida, but after going 17-2 in his first 19 games, he's 1-9 in his last 10. Those nine losses have come by an average of 21.7 points per game. Its last two wins against FBS opponents were a 25-24 fourth-quarter comeback win against a Tulsa team that finished 3-9 and a 38-30 win over a UConn team that finished 1-11.
The locals are growing restless, and you figure it's only a matter of time at this point. It could all come to a head this weekend when South Florida heads north to take on UConn, and the Huskies are hot right now.
Bonus of the Week
Speaking of UConn, as you can see above, the Huskies lost their latest rivalry game against UCF, 56-21. More importantly, the loss gave us all another reminder that Randy Edsall has the greatest agent in the world.
Randy Edsall is 5-23 in his second stint with the Huskies. Oh, and do you remember who one of the leading candidates was to join the Big Ten during conference realignment hysteria? That's right, it was UConn. The Big Ten was really thinking things through back then.
Punter of the Week
Shout out to Western Carolina punter Caleb Ferguson for reminding us all that legs can do more than kick footballs.
Tom Fornelli Team of the Year Dropouts of the Week
Beginning in 2019, The Tom Fornelli Team of the Year Award, presented by The Tom Fornelli Foundation For Football Exceptionalism, is to be given out to one incredible football team that best displays the values of The Tom Fornelli Foundation For Football Exceptionalism. Every week, teams will be eliminated from the running for reasons. Those reasons are at the sole discretion of Tom Fornelli and The Tom Fornelli Foundation For Football Exceptionalism, which is comprised of Tom Fornelli and nobody else. Here are the teams eliminated from consideration in Week 5.
Reason For Elimination
You can't lose to UMass and win an award.
You get shutout, you're gone.
Don't care if it's Ohio State, can't get beat like that at home in primetime.
I like Hawaii, but you shouldn't lose to it by 51 points at home.
Watching the Hokies just makes me sad this year.
It's a lot easierthan it is to look at yourself sometimes.
Teams eliminated last week: Houston, FIU, UL-Monroe, Miami (OH), Michigan, North Carolina, Northwestern, Old Dominion, TCU, UCF
For a full list of eliminated teams and the respective reasons, click here.
On-The-Nose Omen of the Week
Virginia Tech lost at home to Duke 45-10 on Friday night. It's the worst home loss the Hokies have experienced since losing to Houston 49-12 in 1974. The Hokies are 6-9 in their last 15 games against FBS opponents, and 4-6 in their last 10 ACC games.
Stat of the Week
Penn State crushed Maryland 59-0 on Friday night to improve to 40-2-1 all-time in its "rivalry" with the Terps. Maryland's last win against Penn State came in 2014. Maryland won 20-19 in Beaver Stadium (under Randy Edsall!) that day, beating Penn State for the first time since 1961. The following year Penn State got back in the win column with a 31-30 victory. It's now up to a five-game win streak with Penn State outscoring Maryland 201-20 over the last four meetings.
AP Voters of the Week
This week's award goes to everybody who voted in the AP Top 25 poll this week. Sure, there are plenty of separate ballots I disagree with, but as a collective, you all did something we don't see often enough. You punished a No. 1 team for not playing well enough.
The big news in the AP Top 25 poll this week was that Clemson dropped from No. 1 to No. 2, with Alabama taking the top spot. Granted, putting Alabama at No. 1 isn't exactly an Earth-shattering decision, but it's hard to argue Alabama doesn't deserve the honor more so than Clemson to this point.
What's important, however, is that the poll isn't following a mindset we see too often in rankings. There's always been a tendency to leave a team at No. 1 "until somebody beats it." You might remember the 2014 season. Florida State was coming off a national title in 2013, and despite looking pretty pedestrian for the most part, the Seminoles remained undefeated through the 2014 regular season. The Seminoles began the season at No. 1, fell to No. 2 in Week 7, and stayed there until returning to No. 1 in Week 12. They would fall to No. 2 again in Week 14, where they'd finish the regular season. This even though nobody thought Florida State was playing like the best team in the country that year.
It was a point driven home by the College Football Playoff. It was the first year it existed, and it never ranked Florida State higher than No. 2 despite it being undefeated. In fact, in Week 12 it knocked the Seminoles down to No. 3 despite the fact they were one of only two undefeated teams remaining (the other was Mississippi State at No. 1). The next week Mississippi State would lose its first game, and the committee kept Florida State at No. 3, bumping Alabama up to No. 1 instead. The AP Top 25 poll moved the Seminoles back to No. 1.
A couple of weeks later, while still undefeated, the selection committee dropped Florida State to No. 4 while the AP had it at No. 2. Florida State would finish the regular season as the only undefeated team in the land but ranked No. 3 by the committee. It would then play the same kind of uninspiring football it had all season against No. 2 Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but instead of winning, it was trounced 59-20.
Now, none of this is to say Clemson is going to get trounced by anybody. I still think the defending champions are elite, and one of the best teams in the country. But to this point, they have not played better than Alabama, nor have they played better than Ohio State. They do not have better wins than Georgia or LSU. Both the Tigers and Auburn have played Texas A&M. The Tigers beat it 24-10 at home. Auburn beat the Aggies 28-20 in College Station. Which victory is more impressive is up for debate, but Auburn has a win over No. 13 Oregon as well. Clemson's second-best win is either a 41-6 devastation of Syracuse or its 21-20 win over North Carolina on Saturday.
I'm not saying any of these teams are better than Clemson or would beat Clemson more times than not. But to this point, there are arguments to be made that all should be ranked higher than the Tigers. Even if the voters left Clemson at No. 2, it's nice to see a sign that some are at least considering this.
Results from the current year should always matter more than results from previous seasons.
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
2. Ohio State
Until the next Monday After!
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