Rutgers hires new athletic director, shortens list of coaching candidates in wake of Flood, Hermann firings
The two pillars of the Rutgers football program for the 2015 season have fallen.
Head coach Kyle Flood and Athletic Director Julie Hermann were relieved of their duties Sunday, according to a statement released by University President Robert L. Barchi. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Scarlet Knights blew a 21-point lead to Maryland, ensuring a 4-8, bowl-less holiday season.
Now Barchi has hired Patrick Hobbs, a former Dean of Seton Hall University's School of Law.
Hobbs's legal background was weighed as a move to help restore some credibility and authority to the Rutgers Athletics Department, according to sources with knowledge of the Rutgers Board of Governors' discussions of the hiring process.
“This afternoon I spoke with Head Football Coach Kyle Flood and met with Director of Athletics Julie Hermann and informed them that I was exercising the University’s right to terminate their contracts without cause,” Barchi wrote in a statement, saying the decision to remove Flood and Hermann was effective immediately.
Barchi acted swiftly and decisively, but this was not a rushed decision.
The University’s president had his mind made up for a week, he said.
“When I made the decision last week that we needed a change in leadership, I set out to find an interim Director of Athletics who could stabilize the Department,” Barchi wrote. “On a strong referral, I met with Patrick Hobbs. In my meetings and conversations with Pat, and also Board Members Greg Brown and Ken Schmidt, it was clear to all of us that Pat had the attributes required for our next Director of Athletics.”
The permanent job was offered to Hobbs on Friday, welcoming the former Dean Emeritus at the Seton Hall School of Law as the new Athletic Director, Barchi said.
Hobbs has a spotless record entering the position after beginning his administrative career as an Associate Dean of Finance at Seton Hall in 1995, before becoming dean of the department in 1999, according to his biography on the school’s website.
The University's new athletic director said on a conference call with select reporters that this was a “tremendous opportunity."
“I’m really excited by this,” Hobbs said on the call. “I see nothing but opportunity here.”
Barchi, along with Hobbs, Brown and Schmidt, are going to be running point on the search for the Knights' next head football coach.
The short list shows three coaches, with former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano as a universal top pick.
Schiano led the Knights out of the dark ages during his 11-year tenure on the Banks (2001-2011), going 68-67, with six bowl appearances and a 5-1 record to show for those bowl games.
But the reports of the school giving the 2006 Home Depot Coach of the Year a 36-hour deadline to make a decision have been refuted by four alumni with knowledge of the hiring process.
Two sources within the donor community told The Daily Targum that the offensive line coach for No. 2 Alabama, Mario Cristobal, is the leading candidate to succeed Flood.
The sources have requested anonymity due to the University's request not to discuss the process publicly.
Cristobal was reportedly offered the job three years ago in 2012 after serving as offensive line and tight ends coach under Schiano, but ultimately turned it down. He worked as head coach at Florida International before becoming the offensive line coach on Nick Saban's staff at Alabama.
Cristobal was named 2015 Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com after leading the charge in the No. 2 recruiting class for 2015, which included five-star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, a St. Peter’s Prep (New Jersey) product.
As a four-year letter-winner at Miami (1989-92), the 47-year-old won two National Championships during the Hurricanes' glory days.
Cristobal’s connections to South Florida would be coveted by Rutgers on the recruiting trail, but it also has him rumored to be a candidate for the Miami's head coaching position left vacant after Al Golden was fired on Oct. 25.
A Colts Neck, New Jersey, native, Golden is another one who has been mentioned as a candidate for the Knights' next head coach.
His ties to New Jersey and Florida are attractive when considering the impact on recruiting, but Golden's dismissal after beginning the year 4-3 has largely made him less attractive as a candidate.
All signs point to Schiano or Cristobal to be the next man at the helm in Piscataway, but Schiano would be the first choice for Brown, according to a source with knowledge of the board member's relationship with the Knights' former head coach.
For Flood, the ousting came unexpected. One day after coaching Rutgers to a 46-41 loss to Maryland on Senior Day, he took a recruiting trip to Long Island via helicopter Sunday morning before being alerted of his firing in a telephone call with Barchi Sunday afternoon.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody in the University,” Flood said at his postgame press conference Saturday. “Nobody has given me any indication that I wouldn’t be the football coach.”
A day later, after concluding his fourth season as head coach, he was fired.
Flood finished 27-24 overall as the face of Rutgers football. He had made three-straight bowl games before this season, but the arrests and subsequent dismissal of seven players, his three-game suspension for contacting a faculty member regarding a player's grade and the Knights losing six of their final seven games proved too large a load to bear.
“I want to thank the entire Rutgers community for the opportunity to be a part of their F.A.M.I.L.Y. for the last 11 seasons,” Flood said in a statement on Twitter. “I wish the Rutgers team, community and alumni nothing but success in the future … I have no doubt the best is yet to come.”
For updates on the Rutgers football team follow @KevinPXavier and @TargumSports on Twitter.