Kyle Flood Lands a Promotion at Rutgers
By Paul Myerberg // Jan 31, 2012
Kyle Flood’s coaching career can be summed up in three words: Gardi, Keeler and Schiano. Those are names, actually, with Gardi the former coach at Hofstra, Keeler the current coach at Delaware and Schiano, of course, the head coach at Rutgers from 2001 through last Friday. His connection with each coach spans back to 1997, when he joined Gardi as Hofstra’s offensive line coach, but Flood’s coaching career spans back to 1993, when months after graduating from Iona he took a position coaching both lines at St. Francis Prep in Lafayette, N.J. — Flood’s alma mater, as well as a school famous for producing Vince Lombardi, among other notables.
“I’ve been working 19 years to be in this position,” Flood told the Asbury Park Press on Saturday, after he made his pitch to be Schiano’s full-time replacement. “You’re never ready for your first head coaching job, but I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. It would be a tremendous honor. It would be something I’ve worked for my entire life. I’m looking forward to doing it.’’
Flood’s route from offensive line coach to interim coach to permanent head coach was aided in great part by the two most unforeseeable coaching moves of the offseason. The first was Schiano’s decision to leave Rutgers for the N.F.L. five days before national signing day — and right as the Scarlet Knights were poised to sign one of the best classes in school history. His bolt for Tampa Bay made Flood, Schiano’s chief lieutenant, the point man for Rutgers’ goal of keeping the current class together.
Mario Cristobal coached Rutgers’ offensive line from 2001-3, beginning with the tight ends and offensive tackles, before moving to Miami (Fla.) in 2004. It was Cristobal’s decision to not accept Rutgers’ contract offer — a very unexpected decision — that paved the program’s decision to hire Flood, marking the second time that Rutgers’ new head coach has seen his fortunes rise thanks to Cristobal opting for a Miami-based program rather than the Scarlet Knights.
For his years of strong and loyal service, Flood would have likely been asked to remain on Cristobal’s staff, had he been hired yesterday. Beyond being familiar with the program and the region, Flood is also one of the nation’s top offensive line coaches; since he arrived in 2005, the Scarlet Knights have had the most consistent line play in the Big East. And while there are other factors in play, Rutgers is 56-33 since Flood arrived in 2005; the Scarlet Knights went 12-34 from 2001-4.
So what we do know about Flood? We know that he learned at the feet of three of the region’s best coaches of the last generation: Gardi, Keeler and Schiano. Gardi, a former New York Jets assistant who passed away in 2010 following stroke-related complications, won 119 games over 16 years at Hofstra from 1990-2005. The Dutchmen went 46-15 from 1997-2001 with Flood as the line coach.
One day, should he so choose — and he owns a contract that runs through the 2017 season — Keeler will be hired at an F.B.S. program. For now, Keeler’s obviously content with the security that comes with the territory at Delaware, which has had three coaches since 1951. The Blue Hens went 30-11 from 2002-4, when Flood was on the staff, winning the 2003 F.C.S. national championship.
Then comes Rutgers, and it’s no coincidence that the program’s recent climb has occurred with Flood in the fold. Yes, there are countless other factors, and yes, the tough part was behind Schiano; he had rebuilt Rutgers, just had yet to take the next step. Only once with Flood on the staff, in 2010, have the Scarlet Knights failed to reach bowl play.
Flood’s issue is that he isn’t a big name. But as we know, name value matters only for ticket sales; games are never won on name alone. What Flood brings to the table, in a way, is what attracted Rutgers to Cristobal: experience with the program, a solid track record and the ability to recruit at a high level. What Flood lacks is head coach experience, and that’s the biggest concern surrounding his promotion.
Would the Scarlet Knights have preferred that sort of experience? Of course. The program wants to take the next step, from Big East to national contender, and the learning curve that will accompany Flood’s promotion might set that climb back a year. Rutgers is looking beyond the coming season with this hire, even if Cristobal’s decision to stay at F.I.U. forced the program’s hand.
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Tags: Greg Schiano, K.C. Keeler, Kyle Flood, Mario Cristobal, Rutgers
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