Commentary: To the Next Step

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is off to a strong start as Greg Schiano's replacement on the Banks. Securing the best recruiting class in school history in unfavorable conditions reflects positively on Flood, but here are five steps he must take before spring practice to take Rutgers to the next level.

Kyle Flood had perhaps the best first 48 hours in the history of college football coaching hires. Flood not only kept the Rutgers class together, but secured verbal commitments from defensive end Darius Hamilton, wide receiver Ian Thomas and cornerback Jevon Tyree.

Greg Schiano had a vision of building a secure fence around the top talent in New Jersey. In his first 24 hours on the job, Flood did it better than ever before, signing the top two defensive linemen in the state, the top linebacker, the top cornerback, top offensive lineman and top wide receiver.

Instead of wasting time with a pat on the back, however, Flood needs to use his first 90 days in office to take Rutgers football to the next level.

Rutgers went from a one-win team to a bowl team under Schiano, but flattened out after the stellar 2006 campaign. Flood has all the tools to take Rutgers to the next level, a Big East championship, but has a lot of work to do between now and spring practice. The season may be over, but the job of a head coach never stops.

1.) Build a Staff

In certain ways, Flood is at the mercy of Schiano in staff-building. Receivers coach P.J. Fleck was gone regardless, but it appears Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will compete over various assistants with the latter offering more money and an NFL opportunity.

Good staff members come and go and Flood has 20 years of coaching experience and connections to call upon in filling open slots. Rutgers is an attractive job to aspiring assistants. Just look at how many staffers are getting NFL jobs or major promotions in the last three years.

2.) Stay on the Recruiting Trail

As we learned in an extremely untimely coaching search, recruiting never stops. Many coaches and recruits are familiar with Flood in North Jersey and New York, but Flood needs to make himself known to other recruiting areas. Rutgers was in good standing with many top talents in the Class of 2013 like the Timber Creek (Erial, N.J.) trio and Washington D.C.'s Derwin Gray.

Flood needs to hit the recruiting trail hard to make up the ground lost by Schiano's departure.

3.) Evaluation Period

Coaches use this time after the end of the season to evaluate every aspect of the program. This will be a little different for Flood, who had a much different role last season. February is a time to figure out position changes and scheme changes. For Flood, this means figuring out the best place to use Jeremy Deering and how to replace Mohamed Sanu.

4.) Get Noticed

Everyone at Rutgers knew Schiano, but not everybody liked him. Flood remains a relative unknown to the average member of the Rutgers community. As an offensive line coach and former lineman, Flood is used to not getting enough credit. But as a head coach, it's time to enjoy the spotlight and become the face of Rutgers football.

5.) Embrace the Expectations

It is safe to say that Flood's first-year expectations are higher than Schiano's. Like Flood said in his announcement press conference, the time is right for Rutgers to win championships. Flood needs, and already has, set high goals for the upcoming season as the Scarlet Knights should be a top-three team in the Big East preseason poll this summer.

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