Newly hired defensive line coach Jim Panagos, who comes from UCF, cannot wait to dive in and pursue his dream job at Rutgers.
"I'm excited to be here," Panagos said. "This is my dream job. This is where I want to be. Me and my wife have talked about this. We want to be here for the rest of our careers. So I'm really fired up to be here. I came up with relationships with coaches from New York and New Jersey so it helps with what we're trying to accomplish here at Rutgers.'"
Flood and Panagos first met in St. Petersburg during the 2009 bowl game between Rutgers and UCF. In a week that culminated in a 45-34 Rutgers victory and Mohamed Sanu MVP, the two gained an instant respect for each other.
"The best way to judge a football coach is to watch the way his players play on film," Flood said. "It was very impressive, and they were as fine of coached group as we played the entire year and played with tremendous effort. That stood out as soon as you put the film on, how hard his players at UCF played. I've always hoped that someday I'd have the opportunity to work with Jim. We're really excited to bring him here.''
"Remember that game? We didn't do real well," Panagos said. "[Rutgers was] very, very well coached. I thought the kids played really hard. I thought they had great technique. We were really concerned going into that game how we would handle their physicality. I thought the kids played really hard for Rutgers upfront. I think they're physical and that's what I think all great programs put upfront. Their offensive and defensive lines being very physical. I think the offensive and defensive line are the reflection of the program."
Panagos said he has a familiarity with the personnel after recruiting many of them to come to UCF. Scott Vallone, Panagos said, is someone he is very excited to coach.
"I'm really fired up about him," Panagos said. "I've watched him play the last couple of years. I'm from East Islip, which is about two minutes from his hometown, so I knew about Scott in high school. Great football player ... and it shows on film. I'm excited for him. He's a fifth-year senior, so we expect big things from him."
In recruiting, Panagos has ties to almost every area for Rutgers. From New York, Panagos played defensive line at Maryland, coached in Florida and recruited New Jersey.
Flood expects Panagos to have presences in both Florida and New Jersey in recruiting for the Scarlet Knights.
"We haven't finalized it 100 percent, but I think it would certainly be in our best interest to have Jim have a section of Florida that he's already recruited in and has natural built-in ties to," Flood said. "But he'll also be recruiting up here because he has ties up here in the Northeast as well."