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Interim coach Flood emerges as RU?finalist

FIU?coach Cristobal also leading contender to replace Schiano

What likely began as a courtesy interview with interim head football coach Kyle Flood on Saturday resulted in one of two finalists to replace Greg Schiano as Rutgers’ head coach.

After Athletic Director Tim Pernetti conducted a series of interviews this weekend, he narrowed his candidates to Flood and Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal. ScarletReport.com first reported the story.

Pernetti is expected to make a decision before Wednesday’s National Signing Day.

“I’ve been working 19 years for this day,” Flood said Saturday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, where he hosted a handful of recruits and met with the media for the first time since his appointment. “I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. This is 19 years in the making.”

Flood offers stability as a seven-year veteran of Schiano’s staff with well-established ties to New Jersey high school coaches and recruits. Many of the offensive linemen, who committed to Rutgers and maintained their commitments after Schiano left, cited Flood for their decisions.

Flood would likely keep the Rutgers coaching staff in place.

He said it is always an honor to be considered for an NFL position, but he does not expect any coaches to follow Schiano to Tampa.

Schiano gave a different impression Friday, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced him as their ninth head coach. He refused to get into specifics, but said he could look to Piscataway to fill out his coaching staff.

“We have a lot of great coaches at Rutgers — really, really good coaches, NFL-level coaches,” he said. “There could be some [on my staff].”

Cristobal would also likely keep the coaching staff intact, which would help keep a highly touted recruiting class together until commitments become binding.

That became Flood’s primary job Thursday, when Pernetti named him interim head coach.

“It’s been excellent. The response from the recruiting class has been just tremendous,” Flood said. “As of right now, everybody that’s committed to us from the beginning is still committed to us. We plan on keeping it that way.”

Flood joined Schiano’s staff for the 2005 season and became assistant head coach in 2008.

He arrived in Piscataway two seasons after Cristobal left to coach tight ends and then the offensive line at Miami. Cristobal spent three seasons coaching the same positions at Rutgers, three seasons at Miami and then took over a struggling Florida International program in 2006.

The Golden Panthers went to bowl games the past two seasons and played Rutgers twice under Cristobal, losing a pair of close games. He has connections to Rutgers and New Jersey, but would also keep a pipeline from south Florida to Piscataway.

Pernetti said Thursday hiring a coach by National Signing Day is “doable,” and that appears even more likely. Cristobal was a leading contender from the outset, but Flood put himself in the conversation with an interview Saturday that he said went “very well.”

“I would say I’m a big advocate for hiring from within,” Flood said. “I think it always helps recruiting. Recruiting is about relationships, and any time relationships that are built are still there for a recruit, they always feel more comfortable.”

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