"This thing moved a lot faster than, a lot quicker than people expected it to," declared Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti in discussing the departure of head coach Greg Schiano. "I think the hope and expectation was that we would be able to keep Coach Schiano in here for a long time."
On Jan. 26, 2012, the campus, fans, alumni and players of Rutgers University were thunderstruck by the announcement that the man who had taken the Scarlet Knights from the basement of Division I college football to perennial bowl contenders was packing his bags for the greener pastures of the NFL.
Three months hence, the dust has settled. But what, exactly, has Rutgers lost?
Proponents of Greg Schiano will argue that under his guidance, the Scarlet Knights have gone to six bowl games, and they have consistently recruited players and produced NFL level talent.
Unfortunately, a closer look at Schiano's time at Rutgers reveals a different story.
If not for an invitation to—and victory in—the 2011 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Schiano would have finished his career at Rutgers with a mere .500 record.
When he first came to Rutgers in December 2000, Schiano looked to change the culture at Rutgers by keeping home-grown talent in the state and made the bold statement, "If you stay in New Jersey, we can win championships."
Not only did that not occur, it never even came close. In his 11 seasons at the helm, the Scarlet Knights could not even win the Big East Conference--not once--and compiled a woeful 28-48 record against conference opponents.
In a conference that has seen many of its best teams leave for other greener pastures, the Scarlet Knights not only failed to win the Big East, but they could not manage to defeat rival West Virginia once in the 11 years with Schiano as coach.
Detractors will also point out that Schiano did not exactly leave the school at a time when it is on the verge of greatness. A quick review of their last 29 games shows the Knights to be a mere one game over .500, and the fact is that Schiano leaves as only the third-winningest coach in the history of Rutgers football.
Most recently, critics of Schiano saw signs of the Scarlet bloom withering with his team's overuse of the wildcat offense, his driving off of star quarterback Tom Savage, and the numerous rumors of his candidacy of other high-profile coaching jobs (Michigan, Miami, Penn State, among others).
But while they questioned his conviction to the job, Schiano's acceptance of the Buccaneers' head coaching job took the vast majority of fans and followers by surprise.
Schiano was often seen as a coach who needed and exerted control over all aspects of the program, but Kyle Flood is viewed as one who places his faith in others on his staff to get things done.
"If you trust the people you hire," Flood said. "That allows you to feel really good when you come to the office. You have to hire people who can do their job."
A reaffirmation to the best interests of the team is exactly what the Scarlet Knights need at this crucial time, and so there will be no sweeping changes in the philosophies of the offense or the defense. More importantly, while the program will stay the course, the coach has remained the same man the players had grown to appreciate.
"The biggest thing we appreciate is [that] he didn't change," said Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. "He's been the same guy. We really love him, and we're looking forward to him taking us to where we want to go."
Rutgers needs a bridge from the crumbling uncertainty of the past to the stability of the future. Rutgers' fans, players and the administration are all hoping that that bridge is named Kyle Flood.