Kyle Flood the safe choice for Rutgers

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
3:30
PM ET

There is nothing bold and nothing daring about this new era for Rutgers football.

But Rutgers did not need bold and daring. It needed a seamless transition from Greg Schiano. It needed a man who did not have to start over. A man who did not have to win over players or an administration. A man who has an understanding of what it takes to own the tri-state area in recruiting. A man who will never sacrifice the core values of the program.

It needed Kyle Flood.

Say what you will about the roundabout way Rutgers hired him. Or that he appears to be the second choice. Or that money played a hand in this decision. Is it a reflection on Rutgers that FIU coach Mario Cristobal elected to stay in the Sun Belt? No more than it is a reflection on Pitt, which also struck out in its efforts to land him.

[+] EnlargeKyle Flood
AP Photo/Mel EvansRutgers football coach Kyle Flood, left, was the safe choice by athletic director Tim Pernetti, right, to replace Greg Schiano.
When you consider how quickly Rutgers needed to get a head coach in place, and the terrible bind Schiano put the program in, there really was only one option for athletic director Tim Pernetti -- the safe option.

So Flood has never been a head coach? Schiano had never been a head coach when he remade this program 11 years ago. Dana Holgorsen was never a head coach when he took over West Virginia this past year. The winningest coach in Rutgers history was never a head coach until he was promoted to the position in 1973. Head coaching experience can be vastly overrated sometimes.

Having said all that, the task that is in front of Flood is not an easy one. There are many coaches who believe it is much easier to build a program than it is to win championships year after year. Flood does not have to rebuild. He cannot maintain. Rather, he has to take a step that Schiano never did. He has to win a championship.

When specifically asked what he has to do to get Rutgers that elusive and first Big East title, Flood demurred.

"I don't think it's Kyle Flood as opposed to Greg Schiano," he said. "I think the time is right for Rutgers to win championships."

The program is positioned to do so, and should be one of the favorites to win the Big East in 2012 with a stellar core of players returning. Anything less than being in contention for a title would be considered a disappointment in Year 1. So already, expectations on Flood will be greater than anything Schiano experienced his first five years as head coach.

There also is an expectation that many of the coaches on staff will remain. But first and foremost on Flood's list has got to be hiring a defensive coordinator to elevate an already terrific group that finished first in the league in total defense.

It was Schiano that was the architect of that unit in 2010, resuming his old, familiar role of defensive coordinator. Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene returns, along with seven starters. Flood should be most familiar with offense, so he must know the importance of settling on a quarterback. He cannot afford to have a twitchy finger the way Schiano did, not with where the program is positioned today.

Flood promised that he will not change for the sake of changing. The philosophy on offense, defense and special teams will remain the same. He seems truly grateful for the opportunity, choking up at one point when thanking his wife and children. He mentioned that Schiano has been one of his biggest coaching influences. Players have come out with their full support.

There is no doubt Flood has plenty going for him. It is not a knock to say he is the safe choice. Ultimately, though, he and Pernetti will be judged on much more.

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