With upwards of 15 head coaching openings at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) at the end of the 2015 season, Rutgers University tends to fall very low on lists of “quality jobs.” However, there are significant benefits to Rutgers that most people tend to ignore that should make Rutgers a more attract job than it gets credit for.
Chris Ash left his Defensive Coordinator position at Ohio State to try to restore the glory “on the banks!” While a new coach brings a new system that takes time to develop and get the right personnel for (and the cupboards were certainly not bear at Rutgers either!), there are a number of elements beyond wins, locker rooms or hype videos that need to be considered when recruits ask, "Why Rutgers?"
If you can do it here you can do it anywhere!
Rutgers sits in New Brunswick/Piscataway, New Jersey which is almost equidistant between New York City and Philadelphia – two of the largest cities and media markets in the country. In addition to being the most densely populated state which every year is one of the top talent produces nationally, any coach is within a 2 hour drive of over 20 million people. That provides very fertile recruiting grounds to potential recruits and success caught more eyes here than anywhere.
New York City is the media capital of the world. Every major network, national morning show, etc. has a presence here. Additionally, a ton of pro leagues, advertising firms, sponsors, etc. all have major presences in New York – and most will have Rutgers grads working there as Rutgers is a major feeder into the local job market. Rutgers games are historically some of the top rated college football games televised in the New York and Philadelphia markets every year, so there are more eyeballs on Rutgers than almost anyone on a pure volume basis!
“Eric LeGrand” Effect
When former Rutgers football player was injured and paralyzed in a college football game, he quickly became a “celebrity” as America watched his struggle, progress and determination to one day walk again. Eric was not the only player ever paralyzed in college football and maybe not the most glamorous story either, but the Rutgers community – and the whole NJ/NYC/Philadelphia area – joined together behind him. That helped him land a Subway sponsorship deal and other endorsements – which in part helped pay for his continuing medical care. He is a spokesperson for the Christopher Reeve Foundation – yes, Superman – who suffered a similar injury and launched the foundation in the NYC-area. For Eric, that was a huge support system and brought his story to the forefront.
While many major schools have partnerships with medical providers, Rutgers sits in the middle of one of the best areas for medical care available for elite athletes. A number of top sports injury doctors sit in New York as places such as Hospital for Special Surgery (team doctors for the New York Giants, New York Yankees, New York Mets, etc.), Mount Sinai, and New York Presbyterian as well as top medical centers in Philadelphia. And that is on top of a great in-house sports medicine staff and the resources of Rutgers Medical School.
While this may not be true of other sports at Rutgers, the football facilities at Rutgers are in the top 15-20% of all schools around the country. High Point Solution Stadium was expanded recently to 55,000 capacity and enhanced with the Audi Club for premium club seats and a high end recruiting lounge in the student section. That puts potential recruits in a great spot to experience the atmosphere of the student section and band. The stadium, while not the Horseshoe in Columbus or the Big House in Ann Arbor, gets deafening loud during big games. The playing surface is state of the art and new electronic ribbon boards and huge high-definition screens add to the glitz. The football offices, player lounges, locker rooms, weight room, etc. are all on par with its peer groups and can compete with some of the heavyweights as well. Rutgers football players get treated very well.
This Rutgers is not your grandfather’s Rutgers. Since 2005, Rutgers produces NFL draft picks and players regularly. Top draftees in recent years include former 49ers OL Anthony Davis, former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, the McCourty twins, ¾ of the Patriots secondary, etc. Rutgers is also a major stop for the Patriots and other teams looking for good quality players who are coachable – a testament to the great work ethic installed in the last 15 years of Rutgers football. With many NFL scouts covering the Northeast living in New Jersey and surrounding areas, Rutgers is a frequent pitstop for them. For borderline potential NFL players, Rutgers is the only school that sits within the local area of three NFL teams (within 75 mile radius) providing hopefuls with the ability to get additional opportunities to gain invites from the Eagles, Giants, and Jets to their pre-draft invite workouts. Additionally, Rutgers athletes in recent years have been respected for being overachievers and hard workers when then do get the camp invites.
Rutgers is celebrating its 250th birthday this year. How many other schools can boast that? Rutgers is often confused for an Ivy League school and was actually invited into the prestigious association, but was converted into a public, state university instead. Rutgers grads litter major companies in both New York and Philadelphia as well as other national companies. The school ranks high on national surveys and also has a solid reputation internationally as well.
Recruiting On A Tankful!
Location, location, location? Did I mention location? Rutgers sits in one of the most desirable locations that actually has four seasons (i.e., not Florida, Texas, California). Don Bosco Prep, a perennial national top 10 program, and other frequent nationally ranked teams such as St. Peter’s Prep, St. Joseph’s (Montvale), Paramus Catholic, etc. are all within an hours’ drive. Many of the top 300 recruits each year are able to show up on game day and take in the Scarlet Knights. A 90-minute drive will extend to the New York and Philadelphia suburbs, and northeast Pennsylvania while a 2-3 hour trip takes you to the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore recruiting hotspots. The hard part in recruiting is getting the top recruits to come in the door. In the case of Rutgers, it is not a matter of getting them in the door – they come in – it is a matter of locking the door so they can’t get out!
So, as Scarlet Nation is hopeful that Chris Ash can restore the lost glory of the Greg Schiano-era and hope that he is the leader to take them to the promised land that they have never gotten to, a couple solid upsets starts to get people thinking again, “Why not Rutgers!”