Every coach, regardless of his sport, is entitled to a bad season. It happens. There are very few programs that win big every year, and Rutgers is no exception to this rule.
Fans are starting to panic, and head coach Greg Schiano is taking a lot of heat. But it really isn't this season that will tell the story, it is the way RU and Schiano react next season that will demonstrate where this program really is.
After yesterday's latest loss, a disheartening 13-10 decision to Syracuse, this is now officially a bad season.
If good teams "find a way to win", as many coaches have stated, I guess bad teams find a way to lose.
Rutgers has certainly found many ways to lose this season.
Sitting at 4-5 with a 1-3 Big East record, good enough for last place in the BCS's worst conference, the Knights have a lot of work to do to salvage a bowl.
And even if they do salvage a bowl at 6-6 or a miraculous 7-5, what does it really mean?
This is still a team that, 11 years into Schiano's tenure, has yet to win even a share of the Big East championship, nor has it played in a BCS bowl.
There are certainly a lot of negatives since the team's huge upset of Louisville on national television in 2006, a year that saw the pundits actually saying that unknown Rutgers deserved a BCS bowl bid over "America's team", Notre Dame.
However, it isn't this season that will break down Schiano if he is to be broken down. It will be next year.
Schiano has referred to Rutgers as a "young team" more often than any Rutgers fan can take.
But, whether you agree with Schiano or not, this is a young team. Its leading wide receiver is sophomore Mark Harrison. It has a freshman leading the wildcat in Jeremy Deering. It has a sophomore Mr. Do Everything in Mohamed Sanu and a pair of signal-callers in Chas Dodd and Tom Savage who are a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
There is no question that this team is struggling. It is even more apparent that the offense is the culprit in the equation.
No matter who is behind center, the line, which is gaining experience, has struggled to keep the quarterback upright. The offensive line will return four of its five starters next year.
There is no question that running the wildcat approximately 75 percent of yesterday's snaps means that the team simply does not trust its quarterbacks and line enough to execute a normal offense.
Next year, the excuses about youth go out the window. Schiano is entitled to this bad season, so long as progress is attained next year.
Next year he will have an experienced line, experienced playmakers and, barring transfers, two quarterbacks who have played at least a season at the college level.
If it doesn't happen next year, and Schiano has to start over again, it will truly beg the question: what exactly is the Rutgers football program under Greg Schiano? Perennial pretender, or perennial contender?
Is Rutgers the program that came within the precipice of the national stage, or a team that must be content to win its six to eight games a year, winning their minor bowls?
Next year will go a long way to answering those questions.
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