It's hard to overstate just how much Greg Schiano meant to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He's the only coach in program history to win a bowl game, he turned 12 straight losing seasons into five winning seasons in six years (including an 11-win effort), produced Rutgers' only two top-10 rankings ever and its highest final AP finish ever.
Actually, let's just say this:
@DFoxRivals Pre-Schiano, Rutgers lost its spring game in 1996 to a team of alumni. The alumni cracked jokes afterward.
Now that he's reportedly (WIDELY reportedly) gone to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where should we expect Rutgers to turn? Let's talk about it, but don't be surprised if the next guy comes from Florida.
Mario Cristobal, Florida International head coach
If one were to poll Rutgers fans, I'd imagine Cristobal would win. He was one of the final two for the Pitt job, was named repeatedly in Penn State rumors, and spent four years under Schiano at Rutgers. He took over a FIU program that was almost literally not an actual football program -- when recruits visited during his first year, he made sure to steer them away from the football facilities.
In his fourth year, the Golden Panthers tied for a Sun Belt title and secured their first-ever bowl win. If he can win at FIU, even against lowly competition, he can probably win just about anywhere.
Al Golden, Miami head coach
Is Rutgers a better job than Miami? Imagine asking that question 10 years ago, when the Canes nearly won back-to-back titles despite losing Butch Davis to the NFL while Rutgers hadn't had a winning season in a decade. But considering what's barreling down on Miami football ... there's a reason Golden's been mentioned for every northeastern job that's opened since the Nevin Shapiro story broke.
He's from New Jersey and has coached a Jersey high school along with stops at nearby Penn State, Temple and Boston College.
One thing that would be mighty depressing to watch: two broke athletic departments battling for a coach. Will Miami's offer of Heat tickets be able to contend with Rutgers' opening parry, 50 alligator paper clips and a lukewarm pressed sandwich?
It's certainly worth noting Golden just signed an extension.
Frank Cignetti, Rutgers offensive coordinator
The safest (and perhaps likeliest) choice, he'd be able to do the best job of holding together Rutgers' recruiting class for the time being, which is the most important task immediately at hand. Perhaps he could be named an interim, though that's a long, long time to function as an interim.
He's only been Rutgers' OC for one year, but has 11 years of coordinator experience. He's never been a head coach. He has family ties all throughout Big East country, with his father and brother both coaching at Pitt.
Mark D'Onofrio, Miami assistant head coach
If not Golden, how about his No. 2? D'Onofrio is already the subject of a couple Rutgers rumors, so here he is. He's from New Jersey and played at Penn State. He coached linebackers at New Jersey's Saint Peter's for a year and worked as Schiano's recruiting coordinator for two at Rutgers, along with four years at Temple.
The Knights may like to replace Schiano with another defensive-minded coach. They may not. I'm not the Knights, how should I know?
K.C. Keeler, Delaware head coach
Suggested by Bruce Feldman. Keeler knows the landscape -- did you know Delaware is near New Jersey? -- having also coached at NJ's Rowan from 1986 through 2001, including nine years as head coach. Born in Delaware and raised in Pennsylvania, he played for the Blue Hens in college. If you'd like a geographic fit for cultural reasons, here's your guy, though he's not very Miami.
Darren Rizzi, Dolphins special teams coordinator
Also suggested by Bruce Feldman. Another coach with plenty of local ties -- he's from New Jersey and played at Rhode Island, coaching at schools in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts before becoming Schiano's special teams coach from 2002 through 2007.
He was a head coach for four years at New Haven and his alma mater, amassing a record of which much can't be made.
He does appear to know his special teams, though. Even though Dolphins boss Tony Sparano was fired, Rizzi may be retained.
Bob Diaco, Notre Dame defensive coordinator
Suggested by Chip Patterson. He's also from Jersey. He, however, has no south Florida ties, and is thus the sore thumb here.