Rutgers must find coach, keep commits

For Rutgers now, the concern is two-fold.

Athletic director Tim Pernetti has to get a head coach in place as quickly as possible to try to save perhaps the best recruiting class in school history. But he is facing a major time squeeze with just six days to go before signing day.

“It's one of those hurry-up-but-don't-rush deals,” Pernetti said at a Thursday afternoon press conference at Rutgers. “This is a long-term decision, this is something that's going to affect the long-term program and we want to make sure we get it right.”

As for the class: "We're going to do everything we can to bring this class in."

Give him credit for one thing -- he was prepared for this day. Pernetti already has a short list of candidates to replace outgoing coach Greg Schiano, who is now headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pernetti also has been placed on the football coaching staff in order to be able to communicate to student-athletes and their families directly.

Pernetti reiterated that getting a new coach in place by signing day next Wednesday was doable, but he wants to do his due diligence as well. What helps is the state of the program. Under Schiano, Rutgers has undergone a stark transformation. That makes the school much more viable option for any prospective head coach.

“This program is not a rebuild. This is a move forward,” he said. “This thing is priced to move in every way. What we'll take out is going to be very attractive. “It's a great job. It's the No. 1 TV market, it's a great institution. It's an institution that supports football and athletics. We have great assets here.”

Pernetti said he was in the loop with Schiano all the way through the process, and even tried to talk him out of taking the job.

“Absolutely I did,” he said. “I believe in my heart of hearts Greg is the right person to have at Rutgers. We were able to have that conversation. We were able to have some objective conversations about the pros and cons of the college game, the pro game. I spent a good amount of my time explaining to Greg all the reasons why I thought staying at Rutgers was the best possible move. But I can't decide what's best for Coach Schiano. Only he can decide that.”

Schiano was able to meet with the team Thursday afternoon to tell them of his decision to leave. What many have wondered about is the timing of the move. Schiano's name has come up for college coaching jobs over the course of his career, but he has turned down every overture. As for why he decided to make this move now, Pernetti gave his best guess.

"I think that whatever profession you're in, you strive to succeed in that profession at the absolute pinacle of the profession. There's 32 guys in the world that are going to have these jobs. The NFL is to some extent the pinnacle of coaching. I'm sure that had to be an appealing thing for Greg. I can't get into all the details of why, but maybe this one felt a little different for him than other ones he's turned down."

Here are a few other notable comments from his 30-minute press conference:

  • Why it was decided to designate offensive line coach Kyle Flood as the interim head coach: "A lot of the reason that we're moving Kyle into that position is because he has been here a long time. He has great relationships with the players. He has great relationships in recruiting. He's very steady. We've already had a couple impromptu meetings. The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘I'm going to get this staff together and we're going to figure out how to bring this class in. It was an obvious choice to me to put him in this role."

  • On whether or not conference uncertainty played a role in Schiano's decision: "Anybody that stands up here and says conference uncertainty is not a concern anymore is lying to you. It's something I wake up with every day."

  • Schiano never won a championship so is that considered a failure: "What I look at is all the stuff he's done. This was the worst program in college football 11 years ago. What Coach has done to put it to the point where it's a high-profile job in a BCS conference in the No. 1 media market in the country has a lot to do with all the work that was done. Those championships are down the road. From talking to Khaseem (Greene) and Brandon (Jones) and all the guys on our team, I told them this program is built. The people in the room are going to be the ones that make it happen. It’s my job to surround them with the right type of people to make it happen. Putting timelines on championships is dangerous business. ... Those championships are ahead of us. I've never been more certain than that.”

  • On what he will tell recruits: "The program that you committed to or the program you’re considering, it’s the same program that it was two days ago. The core values are never going to be sacrificed. … The message I’ll send is it's my responsibility to make sure we surround the program with the right type of people. This program's my program, too. I'm not going to sacrifice anything."