Currently… Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers coach
Thermometer Room Temperature
Background Smith's presence was greatly missed after his departure at the end of the 2012 season. Smith took over as the play-caller for Greg Schiano in coach Kyle Flood's first year in charge of the program. Smith's schemes led to multiple dominant defensive performances and the continued success in forcing turnovers. Five players from Smith's 2012 defense (Logan Ryan, Marcus Cooper, Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais and Duron Harmon) became NFL draft picks. Smith spent the year reunited with Schiano in Tampa as a linebackers coach, and can fill two needs with Flood also looking for someone to replace Cohen at the linebacker position.
Currently… Former Boston College head coach
Background Spaziani is a very interesting name when it comes to play-calling and the move to the Big Ten. He spent most of his coaching life at Boston College (1997-2012), which means recruiting New Jersey and calling plays defensively for some strong Big East and ACC teams. Spaziani has the big-time play-calling experience that Rutgers needs. He also played linebacker at Penn State. Spaziani recruits New Jersey, and his stock is "hot" for a reason. Spaziani is another "Jersey guy," from Clark, N.J.
Currently… Rutgers interim defensive coordinator
Background Promoting from within is always a possibility, and players are usually quick to jump behind it. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood made this move for Cohen last year, but the difference with Rossi is that a legitimate search is ongoing. Rutgers will explore all options. Rossi brings a lot of positives. He has been a success in two years as a special teams play-caller. He has defensive coordinator experience at Maine, and the recruiting relationships are already built. Rossi does not have the play-calling experience as most of the other guys on this hotboard. His best statement in the search for a defensive coordinator will be made in how the Rutgers defense plays against Notre Dame. He has the same players available as Cohen did, which allows for instant comparison against a strong Fighting Irish offense.
Currently… CBS football analyst
Background Bradley has been out of coaching since his stint as Joe Paterno's interim replacement at Penn State. Bradley has been a Penn State guy his whole life, playing there in the 70s and coaching multiple positions over the next 30 years. Bradley was Paterno's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for 11 years. Bradley played a huge role in the development of linebackers, for which Penn State became famous under Paterno. He ran one of the best defenses in the country, and knows how to scheme against Big Ten teams. Bradley's long-standing relationship with Paterno is something that would have to be addressed.
Currently… Miami defensive coordinator
Thermometer Room Temperature
Background A Penn State guy that also played for North Bergen and long-time coach Vin Ascolese Sr., D'Onofrio will be hard to pry away from Miami but is worth the effort in many ways. Miami defenses gave up 25.5 points per game under D'Onofrio, so there are questions right now in Coral Gables. Before that, D'Onofrio worked for Al Golden at Temple and Schiano as the linebackers coach at Rutgers. He has ties to the right recruiting areas dating back a long way, and he successfully recruited multiple Rutgers targets to play at Miami, including Gus Edwards and Alquadin Muhammad. He is a Big Ten guy after playing at Penn State, and would mix instantly as a recruiter. There have been ups and downs with the Miami defense, but the experience is there. D'Onofrio has eight years as an FBS coordinator and three as an NFL linebacker.
Currently… UCF defensive coordinator
Background -- Fleming called the plays for Fiesta-Bowl-bound UCF this season, with a dominant performance against Rutgers on his 2013 resume. He has two years of experience at UCF, and a decade of play-calling experience at the BCS level including stops at Akron and Boise State. Fleming was the head coach at Sacred Heart for two years as well. Fleming is originally a New Yorker, and has plenty of experience recruiting the area from his time at UCF, North Carolina and Villanova. UCF finished 13th in the NCAA in scoring defense this season, and placed seven players on the All-AAC defensive teams.
Currently… Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive assistant
Background Lukabu was an interesting name early in the process, but the thermometer is dropping here. He would have had a full-time spot at Rutgers if not grabbed to work for Schiano. He is great with linebackers, and Steve Beauharnais credited Lukabu as much as possible for his success in moving to middle linebacker and making it to the NFL. Lukabu worked as a GA for Schiano at Rutgers before taking the defensive coordinator job at Fordham and heading to the NFL the next year to coach names like Gerald McCoy. Lukabu is young, and the least experienced play-caller on the list. He also has five years of Rutgers experience.