College football’s resident punch line is at it again, so busy beating itself around the head that it cannot hear the jokes being hurled constantly, unrelentingly, and deservedly its way. Rutgers is always going to be Rutgers, and down at New Jersey’s State U, covering your ears and ignoring the noise (as well as common sense) is the de facto management style.
The school’s leaders torpedoed their best opportunity to tout Greg Schiano’s triumphant return to coaching the Scarlet Knights, when an overmatched athletic director and disinterested university president failed in their attempt to woo the onetime head coach back to the sideline. The Pat Hobbs/Robert Barchi union of dunces managed to get a deal to the half-yard line and fumble the ball away anyway, letting Schiano walk away from the negotiating table last Sunday. The breakdown ignited backlash from the fan base and spawned a firestorm on social media, anger loud enough to have reports out of New Jersey putting the two sides back in discussions.
But if that deal remains undone, here’s a question for area college football fans. Could there a different deal to be made at a nearby Chestnut Hill campus?
It is one of the more fascinating scenarios that could play out at the annual end-of-season coaching carousel and one that, in the end, could bring us college football’s own version of Freaky Friday, wherein Rutgers would have interest in Boston College’s Steve Addazio.
With Addazio on the hot seat regardless of what happens Saturday against Pittsburgh (the 5-6 Eagles are 10-point underdogs), BC AD Martin Jarmond also might be in the market for a new coach.
Connect the dots. Jarmond previously was the deputy AD at Ohio State from 2009-16. Schiano began his assistant head coach/defensive coordinator stint at Ohio State in 2016. So the two have a history.
But more than that, Schiano has a college football history. Rutgers may be choosing to ignore it — a total head-scratcher to me, given that Rutgers is precisely where he established it by somehow turning the nation’s biggest football doormat into a top 20 team — but if the adage about one person’s trash being someone else’s treasure, Jarmond could absolutely cash in.
Hmmm, I wonder if Schiano would be motivated to recruit New Jersey for BC . . .
As one person from Rutgers (full disclosure: also my alma mater) who is a big donor to the football program recently told me, “Greg landing at BC would be Rutgers’s worst nightmare.”
Before you ask, it wasn’t Greg. Yes, I have a history with the coach, having covered him for years at Rutgers in a previous job. But when Schiano goes underground, he goes underground. And if I couldn’t get him to answer the phone this past NFL offseason to expound on resigning after only a few weeks on the job as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, no chance I can ask him about what is happening at Rutgers and, by extension, what happens next.
But a union with BC could make sense, and could be a great fit for both sides. BC has a rich football history, one built on respecting the delicate yet important balance between academics and athletics. It is an annual leader in the APR rating, which measures four-year graduation rates among its student-athletes. Rutgers regularly shared that rarefied air back when Schiano was in charge.
Also, the school was founded by the Jesuits, an order of the Catholic Church, and Schiano is a man of deep faith. This was his only public comment on parting ways with the Patriots last spring: “I have informed Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Coach [Bill] Belichick that I am stepping down from my position at the Patriots. This is not the result of any one event, but rather a realization that I need to spend more time on my faith and family.
“I don’t want to look back years from now and wish I had done things differently. Therefore, I am taking time away from the game to recalibrate my priorities.”
If the dust settles after all of this and Schiano is back in Massachusetts rather than New Jersey, Rutgers will look back and wish it had done things differently.
But here’s the other twist that could make this story even more intriguing. While Rutgers undoubtedly would be in a difficult spot trying to find a coach willing to deal with its particular brand of dysfunction, might a freed-up Addazio fit the bill?
As a Connecticut native who has long recruited the state of New Jersey with a lot of success, Addazio would check a lot of the boxes Hobbs purports to have, chief among them experience as a head coach. The ACC is not the Big Ten, and it’s especially not the Big Ten East, where Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan also reside with Rutgers, but Addazio has taken the Eagles to five bowl games in the last six years.
At Rutgers, that would be cause for a party.
At Rutgers, that was done only when Schiano was the coach.
But that ship seemed to sail for the New Jersey native, who was so all-in on the job that he arrived to a meeting with Rutgers power brokers armed with a blueprint for a rebuild, painful details about the cash infusions necessary not so much for his own pocket (the $4 million proposed annual salary was still near the bottom of Big Ten coaches) but for facilities upgrades and staff salaries. The truth apparently was too much for Hobbs, whose outsized ego has neither room nor desire to let Schiano in.
Meanwhile, Jarmond has been overseeing facilities upgrades all over the BC campus. He has worked at Ohio State, where standards are set. He and Schiano absolutely could find the middle ground for BC. If the carousel spins a certain way, who knows?Tara Sullivan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Globe_Tara.