By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
No school wants to conduct a coaching search just a week before National Signing Day. However, that’s the predicament Rutgers finds itself in, as Greg Schiano decided to leave to become the next head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Schiano inherited a very difficult situation at Rutgers and won only three games in his first two years. However, Schiano turned the Scarlet Knights into a consistent winner in the Big East, posting at least seven wins in seven out of the last eight years. Rutgers made six bowl appearances under Schiano and fell just short of winning the Big East conference title in 2006.
Who will replace Greg Schiano at Rutgers next season?
Steve Addazio, head coach, Temple – In his first season as Temple’s head coach, Addazio led the Owls to a 9-4 record and a victory over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. Addazio is also bringing in a solid recruiting class this year and has the Owls on the rise in the MAC East. The timing of Schiano’s departure makes it very difficult for any coach to leave their current position to go to Rutgers. However, Addazio is one that the Scarlet Knights need to give strong consideration to. He has stops as an assistant at Syracuse, Notre Dame, Indiana and Florida, and is familiar with the area, as he grew up in Connecticut.
Tom Bradley, former interim coach at Penn State – Bradley is a Pennsylvania native and has spent his entire coaching career at Penn State. He served as the Nittany Lions’ interim coach in the final four games, posting a 1-3 record with a loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl. Bradley was highly regarded during his tenure at Penn State for his recruiting and his defenses, which were usually among the best in the Big Ten. However, considering the scandal that surrounded Penn State in 2011, could Bradley be too toxic for Rutgers? For a school that can’t spend a ton of money on its next coach, Bradley would come relatively cheap.
Don Brown, defensive coordinator, Connecticut – Brown was reportedly one of the leading candidates to land at Yale this offseason but eventually pulled his name out of the running. He has a wealth of coaching experience in the Northeast, starting his career at Dartmouth in 1982 and making stops at Yale, Brown, Northeastern, UMass and Maryland. Brown has a 94-45 overall record in 12 years as a head coach and led UMass to the FCS title game in 2006.
Frank Cignetti, offensive coordinator, Rutgers – Rutgers chose Kyle Flood to serve as the team's interim coach while the school searches to fill the full-time position. However, Cignetti could be a strong in-house candidate to keep the job on a permanent basis. He joined Rutgers before the 2011 season, and helped to improve the offense, as the Scarlet Knights jumped from last in the Big East in scoring to fourth. Cignetti has no head coaching experience, but has built a strong resume with stops at North Carolina, Fresno State, California and Pittsburgh, along with the Chiefs and Saints in the NFL.
Mario Cristobal, head coach, FIU – Cristobal’s name has been mentioned in connection with a handful of BCS jobs over the last few years, but he has remained loyal to FIU. Cristobal inherited a disaster when he became the Golden Panthers’ coach in 2007, but has turned the program into a Sun Belt title contender. Under his watch, FIU is 24-38, but has made back-to-back bowl appearances. Cristobal also worked from 2001-03 at Rutgers, serving as the team’s tight end and offensive line coach. There’s no question Cristobal is one of the top coaches from one of the non-BCS conferences. However, he signed an extension before the season and was expected to get a raise after being mentioned heavily for the Pittsburgh position. Cristobal would be a tremendous hire, but it would take a tremendous offer to leave FIU.
Ron English, head coach, Eastern Michigan – English’s overall record at Eastern Michigan (8-28) isn’t impressive, but once you dig a little deeper, it’s apparent he has done a great job in a short amount of time. Eastern Michigan is one of the most difficult jobs in college football, and the Eagles have only one winning season since 1990. English led Eastern Michigan to a 6-6 record in 2011 and has this team in position to move up the MAC standings once again in 2012. English has a good resume, spending time at Arizona State, San Diego State, Michigan and Louisville. He is due for a chance at a BCS job, but English hasn’t coached any in the Northeast.
Ralph Friedgen, former Maryland coach – Why not? Rutgers can’t spend $3 million on a coach, and especially considering how his tenure ended at Maryland, Friedgen has to be eager to get back into coaching. During his tenure with the Terrapins, Friedgen posted a 75-50 record, while leading his team to seven bowl appearances and an ACC title in 2001. Friedgen was born in Harrison, N.Y., just under 40 miles from Rutgers. The only downside to Friedgen is his age – he will be 65 when the 2012 season begins.
Jeff Jagodzinski, former Boston College coach – Jagodzinski recorded a solid 20-8 record during two seasons as Boston College’s head coach (2007-08). He was fired after interviewing for the vacant Jets head coaching position and has spent time with the Buccaneers and worked as the head coach of the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks in 2010. A significant concern if Jagodzinski is to land another head coaching job: He was not regarded as a strong recruiter during his time with Boston College.
K.C. Keeler, head coach, Delaware – Keeler has been a very successful coach on the D-III and FCS level, so it has been a bit of surprise he hasn’t jumped to a FBS position. However, Keeler played linebacker at Delaware from 1978-80, so it will take a special job to pull him away from his alma mater. In 10 years with the Blue Hens, Keeler has recorded a 169-67-1 mark and led the team to one FCS championship. Before coming to Delaware, he posted a 88-21-1 record in nine years at Rowan. Keeler is ready for the next challenge. But is he ready to leave his alma mater?
Tim Murphy, Harvard – Murphy’s name surfaced with the Penn State job, but the school chose to go with New England Patriots assistant Bill O’Brien as its new head coach. Murphy has largely been out of the spotlight, but he has been a head coach every season since 1987. He compiled a 15-8 record in two years at Maine (1987-88), 17-37-1 record at Cincinnati (1989-93) and has a 119-59 record at Harvard (1994-2011). Murphy wouldn’t be a flashy hire, but he’s built a solid resume during his career and has experience coaching in the Northeast from his time at Maine and at Harvard.
Bud Foster, defensive coordinator, Virginia Tech – If not now, when will Foster leave Virginia Tech? He is regarded as one of the top defensive coordinators in college football, but has no head coaching experience. Foster is due for his shot to run a program, but he’s been very loyal to Virginia Tech.
Jim Leavitt, San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach – Leavitt had a rocky end to his tenure at South Florida, but had a very successful run as the Bulls’ head coach. Leavitt posted a 95-57 record with South Florida, which included bringing the program from its inception to becoming a consistent bowl team. Leavitt’s baggage from the end of his tenure at South Florida could be too much to overcome or he may look to land back in the Midwest, where he spent the majority of his career before joining the Bulls.
Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State – MacIntyre recently received an extension with San Jose State, so it’s unlikely he will leave to take the Rutgers job. However, he has spent most of his career close to the East Coast. MacIntyre has also done a good job of rebuilding the Spartans, leading the team to a 5-7 record in 2011 – the school’s highest win total since winning six in 2008.
Bill McGovern, defensive coordinator, Boston College – McGovern has no head coaching experience, but is considered one of the top assistants in the Northeast. He has worked at Boston College since 2000, with a prior stint with the Eagles from 1994-96. McGovern has developed a handful of solid linebackers during his tenure with the Eagles and is known as a good recruiter. McGovern would be a good fit, but the lack of head coaching experience certainly hurts his chances of landing the job.
Darren Rizzi, special teams coach with the Miami Dolphins – Rizzi is a name familiar with many at Rutgers, as he served as its special teams coach from 2002-07. He also grew up in New Jersey and has four years of head coaching experience. Rizzi’s overall record is not impressive, posting a 15-14 record in three years at New Haven and a 3-9 mark in one year at Rhode Island.