Nothing is as embarrassing or destructive as the torture of Mike Rice's faults and aftermath last year. But Thursday's second-round beat down from Louisville tested the theory.
Rutgers saw its first season under Eddie Jordan end in a 61-point loss to Louisville. The same team that snuck out of the RAC with a seven-point win just handed the Scarlet Knights their worst loss in 107 years.
Within the first 15 minutes of the game, the ESPNU audience enjoyed brutal commentary and analysis of the Rutgers program. Jerome Seagears received ridicule for "disgracing" the Rutgers uniform. Captain Myles Mack received praise from color announcer Tim Welsh for being the only player that actually tried.
"We tried," Jordan told reporters after the loss. "We gave great effort. There were times when there was a crack in the armor where we didn't give it 100 percent. We didn't get back. We threw lazy passes. We were hoping instead of doing. That's where the two programs are right now. That's reality."
Reality is that Jordan took over a program in such bad shape that not having a season at all was a realistic possibility. Jordan inherited a whopping four scholarship players at the time of his decision to take over.
Jordan joined a program that, at the time, did not have an athletic director. Rutgers has famously poor facilities that it is trying to improve and a roster that does not fit Jordan's style as a coach.
None of that is an excuse for such a lopsided loss, however. Fred Hill Jr. at his worst or Rice at any time in his Rutgers career never had a loss like that. Rutgers faced adversity that most teams never see, and its only option is to move on.
"We were picked 10th, we ended up seventh, we won a first-round game," Jordan said. "Again, it was a disappointing performance and disappointing loss but we achieved some things that was probably overachievement this year. "
Fielding a team at all was overachievement after last year's train wreck. The problem is that this year's offseason does not look much better. Rutgers has losses of 61, 48 and 32 in conference play with the competition only getting tougher in the Big Ten.
So what does Jordan do?
Mack and Kadeem Jack have to be the focus because both bought into Jordan early and bring professional-caliber skills to the court.
Rutgers found a gem in Junior Etou very late last season. Jordan has to do it again this year, multiple times. Rutgers has a full recruiting class, but continues to aggressively target other kids, which is a sign that departures are expected at the end of the semester.
Find players that want to play hard for Jordan and fit what he wants to do. Jordan knows how to build a basketball team, but he is not exactly starting with the same equipment that Larry Brown got at SMU or Richard Pitino at Minnesota.
"We're starting from the bottom of the mountain and we want to get to where they are," Jordan said. "It's going to be a process for us, it has been a process for us, but I thought our guys had a lot of character and we just need to know how hard we have to work to get to where we want to go."