Friday, January 27, 2012

Breaking the Banks

It has seemed as if every season since the breaktheough 11 win season in 2006, a certain faction of Rutgers University's football fans has wondered aloud how much longer they were going to have to "settle" for Greg Schiano being their football coach. Yesterday they got their answer. Schiano moved from "current" to "former" coach at David "Sonny" Werblin's Alma mater. Schiano heard the siren's call of the NFL and did what a lot of Jerseyans do. He relocated to Florida. He is a bit ahead of the curve perhaps in that he is heading to the home of the "Early Bird Special" and Jai Alai at the age of 45. Then again, he is driving south to take a job that shall place him in the company of only thirty-one other men.

I suppose that I am in the minority among the Rutgers fan base this morning but I have not been transformed from a Schiano fan to a Schiano basher by virtue of his decision to pursue a head coach's job in the NFL. He did one hell of a job during his tenure at RU. He changed the culture at the "Birthplace of College Football". He transformed it from a punch line and into a conversation topic in college football for seemingly the first time since it bested Princeton 6-4 all those years ago. And he did so over the course of eleven years without a hint of scandal or impropriety. On the contrary, over the course of the past several years Rutgers has kept the company of Stanford, Duke and Northwestern in terms of the percentage of its football-playing student-athletes who graduated.

I wish that the timing had been better. Methinks that a number of the young men who had given non-binding verbal commitments to Rutgers to become members of the freshman class of 2012 will end up signing letters of intent to play their college football somewhere other than along the Banks of the Raritan. It is their right to do so. And if the change at the top of the program impacts upon their decision as to where they attend college, then they should take another look at all of their options.

I hope that life in the NFL treats Greg Schiano well. I for one shall miss him. I hope that I am not alone.


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