By Brenda Flanagan
Rutgers sacked embattled football Coach Kyle Flood after his Scarlet Knights went 4 and 8 this season underscoring a basic truth of college sports: nobody likes a loser — especially in the Big Ten.
Raj Ghadila, a senior at Rutgers said, “I don’t know if you saw but Twitter was exploding with “Fire Flood” hashtags. When you go to these games, you want your team to be doing well — and they weren’t, so. I think that’s all to it” So basically people got fed up with losing? “Yeah.”
Dylan Meredith, a sophomore, added, “the school program hasn’t really been doing so well, in terms of how much money’s being spent – and our wins and losses, so – it might be time to look for some new leadership?”
If Flood saw the writing on the scoreboard, he sounded determined to ignore it — even after Saturday’s wrenching 46-41 loss to Maryland.
In a previous conversation Coach Flood said “I haven’t spoken to anybody at the university and nobody’s given me any indication that I wouldn’t be the football coach. To my knowledge, there’s no question about it: I’m the head football coach, I’ve been here for four years now. We’ve won the the only conference championship in the history of this program, we’ve won the only Lambert Cup in the history of this program.”
Whether blindsided or not, by Sunday Flood was gone along with his boss Rutger’s Athletic Director Julie Hermann, both fired by Rutgers President Robert Barchi who called the Scarlet Knights to Hale Center, to explain, “…our continued struggles on-the-field combined with several off-the-field issues have convinced me that we need new leadership of our football program.” Those so-called “off-the-field” issues included Flood’s three-game suspension for inappropriately contacting a professor over a player’s poor grades and the arrest this fall of seven football team members. The Rutgers community tired of negative media reports.
“The football team had so much controversy, and it’s not directly reflective of the coach but they were, I guess, misguided? I mean, they had seven players arrested this year. They didn’t have a great season,” said sophomore Livia Schiffer.
“And people hearing, ‘Rutgers University’ over and over again with all of these bad things is not good,” said Brian Msubuga, a junior.
Barchi sent Hermann packing ending her troubled, two-year tenure noting “…when major changes are being made in our football program, we need a fresh start. Having reached that conclusion this past week, it would not have been fair to Julie, to Rutgers and our student athletes, or to potential football coaching candidates, for her to continue in her role.” Barchi replaced her with Patrick Hobbs, former Seton Hall Law School Dean, appointed 18 months ago as ombudsman to the governor’s office. Christie praised him, “I can think of few people better suited to step into the role of Athletic Director. Rutgers is fortunate to have him.”
“And I’m looking forward to a new beginning, a new start — it’s very unfortunate, and good luck to them. It’s not personal. It’s business. I think it’s the best move for the university,” continued Msubuga.
Hobbs will earn more than half a million annually while Hermann’s annual $450,000 contract runs through 2018. No replacement’s been named for Flood whose contract buyout is worth a reported $1.4M. Flood tweeted a gracious goodbye saying, “I wish the Rutgers team, community and alumni, nothing but great success in the future. This program has been built on a strong foundation, I have no doubt the best is yet to come.”
Rutgers is scrambling to replace Flood who was trying to recruit promising new players the day he got fired. The Scarlet Knights football team’s been having trouble getting top players to commit and a new coach might persuade them to make Rutgers their top pick.