With the announcement of Greg Schiano's return as the Rutgers head football coach — a position he held from 2001 until 2011 — the Department of Athletics has taken a step to rekindle some of the former glory that the football team bestowed upon the University during Schiano’s first term here.
Schiano has agreed, in substance, to an eight-year deal with $25.2 million guaranteed. Additionally, his terms included the construction of a new football facility, as well as a rumored private jet for recruiting purposes.
Schiano reminds Rutgers alumni of the short-lived glory days of the mid-2000s, and as such, donors were pushing hard for his return. Schiano’s first term was the home of several iconic moments, such as when the team was ranked 15th in 2006 and defeated third-ranked University of Louisville in a classic November matchup.
“However, the glory days of Schiano's first tenure with Rutgers were not lost on prominent boosters or fans. Schiano is also still greatly respected among New Jersey high school football coaches, and the state has plenty of talent from which Rutgers can mine. (Rutgers Athletics Director Pat) Hobbs, University President Robert L. Barchi and other members of the Board of Governors came under intense scrutiny for failing to get a deal done given Schiano's popularity," said CBS News' Ben Kercheval.
Still, much can — and should — be said about the money spent on Schiano. His contract is not inordinate for a high-caliber college coach, but the demands of a new facility and a private jet raised quite a few eyebrows.
These demands can ultimately be understood, though, as competing in the Big Ten Conference is no small task, and a jet for recruiting, while perceptively extravagant, could be beneficial.
The only way these expenditures can be excused is if Rutgers competes at a Big Ten Conference level.
Rutgers fans have no delusions about the University’s football team surpassing Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota or University of Wisconsin—Madison as the pinnacle of Big Ten Conference football within the next couple of years.
The community understands that this will be a process, and that truly standing among the powerhouse teams in college football — or at least being in their peripheral — will take time and effort.
Schiano was 68-67 during his tenure at the University, and the fact that we idolize and clamor for a coach with a record barely above .500 further shows how decrepit our football program is.
It is not breaking news that Rutgers is, quite frankly, horrific at football. We have endured incompetence that has led us to five straight losing seasons, including three dismal seasons in a row: We were 4-8 in 2017, 1-11 in 2018 and 2-10 this past season.
These terrible seasons have coincided with the University’s entrance into the Big Ten Conference. Rutgers’ entrance into this premier college football conference, compounded with its hiring of Schiano, shows that the school wants to compete.
The only way that this hiring pays off is if the football program returns to prominence, and the only way that the football program's return to prominence would end up a positive is if the catalyzed attention seeps into other aspects of University life.
Football, particularly at a Big Ten Conference school, can and should help other aspects of the University. Donors love giving money to schools with strong brand names, such as Ohio State University and the University of Michigan.
The Schiano decision can be profitable in the long run if he can build the program to the point where it brings in more money than it loses. It rests on Schiano to do that building, and with the demands he outlined, he has no excuse not to.
There is also another aspect of this whole Schiano situation that raises some interesting points: Schiano originally declined the deal when his demands apparently were not met. Donors and other members of the Rutgers community did not like this at all, and pressure was placed on Hobbs and others to get the deal done.
Days later, and here we are.
Football can be an economic positive, but another question must be addressed: The entire Rutgers community joined together and got the job done in this regard, so what else can be achieved if we all unite?
Going back to Schiano, remember this: The benefit of a good football team manifests itself in the rest of the University, so the metrics used to judge his tenure will not be wins and losses, but the overall prosperity of the University as a whole.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.