Reasso's exit signals start of change in Pernetti era
When the Rutgers men's soccer team begins play in the 2010-11 season something is going to be different.
For the first time in 29 years, Bob Reasso won't be pacing the touchline at Yurcak Field. He announced his resignation Monday morning, making him the first coach to leave his job under Athletic Director Tim Pernetti.
"Everybody was surprised," said junior captain Yannick Salmon. "But I also think everybody just wanted to support him. So yeah, everybody was surprised, but at the same time we also respect his decision."
It will be strange. Reasso amassed 351 career wins at Rutgers, took the Scarlet Knights to 13 NCAA Tournaments, three Final Fours and a national championship game.
But the well had dried up for him in recent times. He's had only one winning season in his last six, reaching the NCAA Tournament just once.
Reasso's resignation is just the first straw to drop in what could shape up to be a winter and spring full of changes under Pernetti. Whether Reasso was forced out or truly just had enough is something only he and Pernetti know.
"No," Salmon said when asked if he had a sense Reasso might be leaving. "I mean we were all really excited for the next season and I think coach was too, so like I said, it was kind of surprising."
But this we do know: When Pernetti arrived on the Banks you could tell he had a plan. My gut feeling is he's had an itchy trigger finger to make changes since the moment he stepped on campus.
And rightfully so.
There need to be changes made inside RU athletics. Outside of four programs — women's basketball, women's soccer, wrestling and a slightly above-average football team — the team-based athletic programs have struggled.
No hate mail please, swimming and track — I'm not talking about you.
Need proof? Here are some records from last season, but you might want to hide your eyes.
Baseball: (22-31, 8-19 Big East)
Men's Basketball: (11-21, 2-16 Big East)
Field Hockey: (2-16, 0-6 Big East)
Men's lacrosse: (4-11, 2-5 ECAC)
Softball: (23-33, 6-18 Big East)
Volleyball: (10-19, 3-11 Big East — But to their credit, they're making strides.)
Even Reasso's once-feared soccer program went stagnant, suffering from recruiting violations that sprang up in 2000, resulting in the loss of 40 percent of scholarships. The Knights reached the NCAA Tournament just three times — in 2001, '03 and '06 — since that time.
Winning a national championship is hard, but you would think a school with the resources of Rutgers would run into one in something other than fencing, even if by accident. There is too much talent in the state of New Jersey, and RU has too many resources for records like those. Remember, the football team was still unwatchable six years ago and football head coach Greg Schiano was rumored to be one more bad season away from getting the axe himself. Then again, he had Terry Shea's players until 2004.
Oh, how fortunes have changed.
Schiano is guiding the Knights to their fifth consecutive bowl game, while Reasso, who used to be top dog from the late 1980s to mid 1990s, is out of a job.
Reasso has come closer than either Schiano or C. Vivian Stringer to winning the Knights an NCAA National Championship. In 1990, his team lost to UCLA 4-3 on penalty kicks in the title game. RU's only other team NCAA Championship — and this is hard to believe — was a 1947 men's fencing victory. That team doesn't exist anymore.
Put bluntly — that's not good enough.
So Pernetti has a job to do. He has to find a replacement for one of the most well-respected coaches in college soccer.
"Rutgers is a tremendous place," Reasso said. "I'm sure whoever gets the job will have a great team returning and will be very successful, and I'll be rooting for them."
As for the names getting floated about as a potential replacement:
Dave Masur — a former Rutgers player and assistant under Reasso — has led St. John's to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and a national title in 1996. He's coming off a season in which his team captured the Big East Tournament title, beating RU 3-0 along the way.
The other, Robert McCourt — the most coveted name in college soccer — just led Monmouth to an 18-2-2 season, the second round of the NCAA Tournament and the No. 5 ranking in the country.
If Pernetti chooses either one, they won't come cheaply. He has to be ready to fork over some serious cash.
But then again, that's what Pernetti is getting paid for — to make decisions like this. He's been excellent thus far, but this is his first big chance to make a real splash, to inject some life back into one of the most revered programs in college soccer.
He can do it. He has showed he's not afraid to make a change and thank goodness for that, because RU athletics needs some.
— Kyle Franko accepts comments and criticism at firstname.lastname@example.org