Friday, April 20, 2012
Kyle Flood eases into Rutgers job
By Andrea Adelson
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The story of how Kyle Flood ended up at Rutgers has nothing to do with deep personal connections, or networking, or a long-standing relationship with former coach Greg Schiano.
It has everything to do with persistence, perseverance and a relentless determination to go after what you want -- the atypical way of doing business these days.
So let us go back to 2005, when the job to coach the offensive line at Rutgers opened up. Flood was at Delaware, but he always wanted to coach at Rutgers, having grown up in Queens, New York. It was as close to returning home as he could get.
So he sent his resume to Schiano.
Offensive line depth should be a positive for Rutgers coach Kyle Flood in 2012.
"I don't know that Greg was looking for me," Flood recalled recently. "I had no relationship with him or anybody on that staff . It was a situation where I did everything I could to see if I could get my resume on his desk. The one on the top of the pile must have fallen off the desk, and he called me."
Flood had recruited the area for years, so he had long-standing relationships with high school coaches in the area. Could that have helped? "I may have had one or two or 300 people call him on my behalf," Flood joked.
Now here we are, seven short years later, and Flood is the new face of the Rutgers program. That doggedness should not be lost on anybody who is wondering how the Scarlet Knights will fare now that the chief architect of the Rutgers revival is off to Tampa Bay.
Flood has been preparing for this job since he arrived, believing that one day his opportunity would come. It just so happened that day arrived in January amid a pressing need to get a hire in place to save a recruiting class and steady the ship. Flood sold athletic director Tim Pernetti the same way he sold Schiano all those years ago.
He was the right man for the job. The only man for the job. He had the recruiting ties, the Northeast roots. His parents still live in the same home he grew up in, and his father has already been a fixture during spring practice. His mother is a huge football fan, and checks the Internet and message boards daily to track what everybody is saying about Rutgers and Flood.
There is no question he wanted this job, and wanted it badly. But the big question is how do you prepare for your first head coaching job when you have spent your entire career as an assistant?
"Bill Walsh said, 'You’re never ready for your first head coaching job," Flood said. "Well if Bill Walsh felt like that -- he is one of the great football minds of all time -- certainly if I have a moment of angst, I’m not the only head football coach to have one. What I go to bed every night feeling good about is, we have good people in this program. The assistant coaches I’ve been able to bring here are good family men, they’re good football coaches. On defense, we have three assistants who have been coordinators, two on the Division I level. On offense, three of the coaches have been Division I BCS offensive coordinators. We have the football minds here.
"If you trust the people you hire, that allows you to feel really good when you come to the office. You have to hire people who can do their job."
In that way, Flood and Schiano may be different. Flood has delegated much more to his assistants, particularly at practice. He does not yell the way Schiano did. But if there are going to be difference between them, there are not going to be many. Particularly when you consider the two worked together for so long.
Flood took diligent notes as he watched Schiano. He has got file folders filled with those notes, referring to them nearly every day.
"I tried to stay very close to Greg," Flood said. "I would ask him questions in private a lot of times: 'Hey, tell me why you did this or tell me where you think this is going,' and I got some great feedback. I just kept files and notes on things. Everything from the organization to spring practice and training camp to here’s what you need to talk to these players about."
He did the same at stops in Delaware and Hofstra, giving him plenty of information to work with as he continues to settle in to the job. From a player perspective, there has not been much of a transition. The offensive, defensive and special teams schemes have remained the same.
"The biggest thing we appreciate is he didn't change," quarterback Gary Nova said. "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."
Developing those relationships with players is one of the biggest reasons Flood got into coaching. Right out of college, his dream job was to be a high school teacher. So he did that, teaching algebra and algebra II at his old high school. He eventually took a part-time coaching job at C.W. Post on Long Island, juggling his teaching responsibilities during the day before heading to practice in the afternoon.
"As a young person, you get curious," he said. "I was 26, and I wondered, 'Can I do this? Can I advance in this profession?'"
He had an opportunity to take a job as an assistant at Hofstra. Now here he is, all those years later.
Flood advanced in this profession all right. All the way to the top.