It’s been said that there’s no better time to act than in the present. For the Rutgers' athletic department, that sentiment couldn’t have ever been more true than it is in this very moment: the present. With the news breaking that the school has suspended head football coach Kyle Flood for three games, and fined him $50,000 for a violation of administrative rules, the school has found themselves at the climactic end of what’s been a tumultuous year four under Flood.
Since he was hand-picked to take over for the abruptly departed Greg Schiano, Flood has fallen short of the newly-heightened expectations set forth by Schiano before his departure to Tampa Bay. Flood has fallen annually in recruiting, and has been inconsistent on the field. It’s one thing for a head coach to not perform on the field in a consistent manner, it’s another when his team is falling apart both on and off the field.
Flood’s suspension comes on the heels of a woeful loss to a down-trodden Washington State team who was fresh off an embarrassing home loss to FCS Portland State. Rutgers looked lost defensively, and were unable to maintain any consistency moving the chains. The revolving door at running back has been lackluster at best, and the defensive front seven is lacking any notable pressure through the first two games.
Before the Scarlet Knights even kicked off against Washington State, they had suspended six players, dismissed five, and had no idea that just hours after their loss to the Cougars, they would be suspending their best player and team captain Leonte Carroo, who allegedly shoved a woman to the ground outside HighPoint Solutions Stadium after Saturday’s game.
Rutgers, until Schiano’s arrival on campus, had forever been the doormat of college football. If you saw the Scarlet Knights on your schedule, you fairly enough inked in a victory, no matter the circumstances; they were just that bad. Schiano turned a perennial doormat into a program that saw it’s highest ranking ever in 2006, vaulting up to sixth in the country after a historic 28-25 victory at home against a Louisville team that was churning forward towards a potential No. 1 overall ranking. Schiano built the house, and Flood, in just over three years has tore it to the ground, and now has it in shambles. What Schiano built is indistinguishable to the common eye. If you haven’t followed the program from the ground floor to where Schiano had it at it’s peak, through to today, you would never know that this program was once in a prominent place. A place of hope, a place of excitement. Flood has destroyed that, with lack of control, a lack of discipline, and a lack of continuity from what Schiano built.
Flood isn’t a bad person, he just did a bad thing. In fact, he’s done plenty of bad things. He’s recruited poorly, he’s been ineffective as a game manager, and he’s been unable to build a team that’s a consistent winner year after year.
What Rutgers needs at this point in time is a refresh. The best way to eradicate a bad situation is to destroy what’s left and build over it. What Rutgers instead is doing is setting a horrible example, and an even worse precedent by not firing Flood on the spot for his behavior in the situations surrounding what earned him his suspension.
Rutgers is essentially saying that all rules are made with all intentions to be broken, but they’re all about second chances. That every coach and player is worth a second, or third, or fourth chance. Any precedent other than zero tolerance involving the breaking of rules regarding administrators is beyond comprehension. What message are you sending to your student body? “Well, professor. Coach Flood cheated and only lost three games, not his job. Why should I face any harsher punishment than the face of the entire athletic department?”
It’s an extremely slippery slope that athletic director Julie Hermann is riding on, and it’s one that’s bound to end in an axe fall on everyone involved at this point. The days are gloomy and dark in Piscataway right now, and it seems as though the future is bleak for a program whose history is full of such a setting.
It’s always been said that if you cut the beast at the head, it will die. This beast is on it’s last leg, and it’s time to move on completely.
It would be of no surprise to see both Flood and Hermann gone at season’s end, but that’s too long. That’s too much time to continue setting bad examples. That’s too much time to continue to feed false hope into a fan base and an institution that’s desperately seeking hope in the one entity that holds together a broken-hearted community of fans. There’s no better time than the present to act, and that time has come.
— 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.