AROUND THE NATION
UNI MESS: OK, enough Louisville. We get it. You’re bad in black … just not bad enough to beat 11th-ranked Clemson on a Thursday night in mid-September when it was ripe for the picking. Seriously, what is up with the black on black on black with gray numerals and touch – just a touch, mind you – of red, the school’s primary color, mixed in? It made Rutgers’ scarlet visual assaults seem almost easy to take.
By the way, Clemson, you ain’t exactly killin’ it, either. Let’s update and take advantage of both the orange and the purple.
Furthermore, as much as my heart warms to my alma maters’ early-season success, can’t go there with a full thumbs up on Temple’s changes, especially when just last season it was wearing getups like the one with P.J. Walker in the picture here.
The new diamond dots everywhere still kinda freak me out, like a “forced” issue … much in the vein of Illinois’ victory badge. At least the Illini’s unis and helmets from last year’s rebranding are totally sweet, and even improved with the addition of blue jerseys to the ensemble.
Oregon, well, the new “duck” helmets weren’t exactly a stretch for the school that’s always trying the latest to be different. Gotta say, though, didn’t mind the design for Saturday night’s loss at Michigan State. Some colors beyond black & white era motif might have nicer, though.
LUCK OF THE IRISH: Hey, it’s not always good. Notre Dame lost its star QB, and starters at RB and TE this past weekend in a last-minute win at Virginia. The Irish appear to be OK at the most critical spot, though, with DeShone Kizer not only replacing injured Malik Zaire in that one, but him actually guiding them to victory.
It would be quite the feat, though, for him to keep them unblemished by the time they’d arrive in Philly for a Halloween affair with arguably the nation’s best story of the early season, Temple – which just may be undefeated at that point. The Owls, having already topped Penn State and Cincinnati, likely will be favored in every game leading up to then should they continue to win. ND, meanwhile, has to face No. 14 Georgia Tech in South Bend, Clemson in Death Valley and No. 6 Southern Cal before then. Woof.
REALITY CHECK: Even with the rough week just endured by the SEC, fact is it just reloads after such “faltering.” This weekend, it gets serious with major tilts: No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama and No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU.
Interesting to note, though, that Temple checks in atop the “receiving votes” list for the AP poll, ahead of the likes of Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida and Arkansas. Wonder what Bret Bielema thinks about that …
People hear the name and think two things: NFL and failure.
Oh, sure some of the more informed few out there might go waaaaay back, all the way to dark ages of four, five, six, maybe even, gasp, seven years ago, and remember that, hmmm, yeah, he had some success at Rutgers University, that the football program won a few games here and there.
Greg Schiano, they hardly knew ye … and they still don’t.
As the waves of mediocrity and misguided actions intensify with each crashing against the back of beleaguered Scarlet Knights head coach Kyle Flood, it’s fascinating to note that we hear not a peep, not a single one, about his predecessor along the banks of the Raritan River and how he ran things.
Makes no sense to me.
For all the hearts he may have hurt, all the bridges he may have burned by leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not to mention all the people he probably pissed off during his 11-year tenure in Piscataway, Schiano was a winner there. A big winner.
But it goes beyond that. See, when experts speak about the great reclamation, or built-from-scratch, projects performed at the likes of Baylor or Texas Christian or Boise State or Duke, everything they say, factually or even laced with hyperbole, has merit. The coaches who have directed those programs to something other than dead weight deserve accolades out the wazoo.
None of them, though, was given a worse hand to play than Schiano when he took the reins at Rutgers in December of 2000. Today’s oft-coined catch phrase “dumpster fire” would have been a step up with describing the charred remains he inherited.
It took the Jersey native four years to get his feet firmly planted at Jersey’s state university, but once he stepped into Year 5, the Knights were off and running. That knowing nod of approval at Schiano’s overall record of 68-67 at RU, a place where winning at a .200 clip would equate to .500 elsewhere, really doesn’t even do the man justice.
In his final seven seasons at the helm, RU went 56-33 with six bowl appearances, five resulting in victories. During that run, the Knights hosted Louisville, a top-5 team at the time, in arguably the best game of this millennium’s first decade … and won. Schiano earned several national coach of the year honors at the completion of the season that same year, 2006.
Yet, as Flood and his RU coaching career appear to be circling the drain, nothing is mentioned about Schiano. In fact, nothing, really, is mentioned about how the program has taken a downturn under Flood since he took over.
If anything, this piece is a condemnation of what has occurred since the latter’s hiring in 2012 as much as it is an ode to what the former accomplished before then.
Reality is, Flood was given a good program at the time and hasn’t done anything to improve it, or even stabilize it – even with the benefit of RU joining the Big Ten, thanks, in large part to what Schiano did on the field and what former AD Tim Pernetti did behind closed doors, and staked with a roster the former coach left behind that allowed him to win 9 of his first 10 games as Knights head coach.
He’s 15-16 since, with decision-making boo-boos and police-blotter mentions mounting faster than his offense can accumulate yards, and don't even get me started on the uniform craziness that has gone haywire under Flood’s watch.
Seriously, transgressions and turmoil seem to be the staples of the current program anymore. One begets the other. The day after it becomes common knowledge that a player has been suspended from the squad for assaulting a “romantic interest” following Saturday’s nonconference loss to Washington State, the head coach was ruled to have interfered with academic protocol, then received a suspension himself and a $50K fine.
Thing is, no one runs a pristine program at the power-conference college level. With 100-plus mostly immature young men involved combining with the very real pressures of having to win, it’s not possible to do so. But there comes a line of demarcation where one side is acceptable and the other is “lost it.”
Schiano never crossed the former to the latter. To me, Flood has ... and, if nothing else, it might behoove those in charge at RU to recall his predecessor's reign to know that a winning, quality program can be had without the current guy in charge.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com