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Rutgers Suspends Five Players Amid Coaching Investigation

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In a report first released by Joe Schad on ESPN.com, Rutgers has suspended five players, including quarterback Chris Laviano and team captain wide reciever Leonte Carroo, for its season opener against Norfolk State. The players are reportedly suspended for the first half of the opener due for a violation of a team curfew rule.

The report comes just minutes after Keith Sargeant of NJ.com reported the school opened an internal investigation on head coach Kyle Flood, who's already on the hot seat with the Scarlet Knights football program, for reportedly inquiring about the status of junior cornerback Nadir Barnwell's academic eligibility.

In addition to Laviano and Carroo, the team also suspended linebacker Kevin Marquez, punter Tim Gleesson, and cornerback Ruhann Peele.

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In light of Laviano's suspension, 2014 transfer quarterback Hayden Rettig, who sat out last season after his departure from LSU gets the nod under center in Week 1. Rettig, a former four-star recruit from Los Angeles, Calif. realized he wouldn't see much playing time behind Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings and chose Rutgers as his destination. Flood was recently quoted as saying the decision on a starter was "getting close" after the full-team scrimmage last Saturday night. With Laviano's suspension, obviously that decision was made for him.

The ramifications of these suspensions may not mean much on the field against FCS opponent Norfolk State, but it's just another black eye for a program that's looking to turn the corner after an impressive 8-5 debut campaign in the Big Ten. 

Flood needs a solid season to ensure his job security with the Scarlet Knights, especially if this current investigation turns out uglier than expected. It doesn't seem that e-mailing an administrator is a damning offense. However, simply put: He broke the rules. The e-mail incident only gives the school more leverage to fire the up-and-down coach at any point, as they now stand with "cause" in their corner if they feel firing Flood would be necessary. 

Follow Chris on twitter @warontheweekend as he continues to update this story.

— Written by Chris Dougherty, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Dougherty also serves as a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com and has written for other sites, including FanSided.com and Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @warontheweekend.