O'Neil: Jordan gives Rutgers hope

Rutgers did not get its first choice.

Rutgers did, however, make the right choice.

That the school did not make the right choice before speaks only to the morass that currently exists at the State University of New Jersey, but that is a subject for another day.

This day is for Eddie Jordan, a man who ought to be greeted by trumpets, fireworks and a fist pump from Governor Chris Christie on his first official day on the job. It takes a special man to take over a program in ruins; it takes a saint to take over a program in ruin that counts a 2004 NIT runner-up finish as its most recent high bar of achievement.

But more than saint or savior, what Rutgers needed was someone who actually cared about Rutgers -- about the school, its reputation, its successes and its future. Jordan, an alum of the school and part of the Scarlet Knights' lone basketball run to glory, is exactly that.

This job is a sordid mess right now. Jordan's office sits in the Rutgers Athletic Center, or as it's come to be known, the scene of the crime. It is there that former coach Mike Rice hurled basketballs and homophobic slurs at his players, all of it videotaped as practices routinely are these days, turning Rice into the producer of his own Zapruder film.

There is no athletic director, no legal counsel. The president is about as popular as a broccoli-and-liver sandwich would be to a 6-year-old.

Recruits are backing out of commitments, players want to leave -- including leading scorer Eli Carter, who has asked for his release -- alums are angry and embarrassed, and the university is about to transition from the Big East, where it never had much success, to the Big Ten, where it makes about as much geographic sense as Houston in the Big East did.

Right now, this is a program only a graduate could love.

For Dana O'Neil's full column, click here.