It was a busy afternoon of announcements at Rutgers, with Ben McDaniels’ promotion to offensive coordinator as the highlight.
So what do these changes mean?
For one, Rutgers is a lot younger in the offensive meetings, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Ralph Friedgen was exactly what Rutgers needed in 2014. He deserves a ton of credit for the Gary Nova transformation, and the most explosive Scarlet Knight offense since 2008.
But Friedgen himself said Tuesday that he was ready to enjoy other parts of his life, including the birth of his first grand daughter, and “time to smell the roses.”
Rutgers, instead, has a young, hungry coach that wants to prove himself.
“Ben is very, very capable of being an outstanding offensive coordinator,” Friedgen said on his successor. “He's one of the bright young minds that I've come across, and I have no hesitation in knowing that he'll carry on and do a great job, and I think what helps with having so many coordinators that they can help him with the transition, and I think that'll be very important.”
What exactly does Rutgers have in McDaniels?
The college experience is limited, but his time with the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a plenty strong statement on his resume. McDaniels may not have formal play-calling experience, but he has plenty of references. He installed third downs, and worked with multiple position groups under Friedgen last season.
McDaniels’ older brother, Ben McDaniels, is arguably the top offensive coordinator in the NFL. His father, Thom McDaniels, is a legend at the high school level.
The last time Rutgers promoted an offensive coordinator with no play-calling experience? John McNulty, who also moved from receivers coach and that worked out just fine.
McDaniels brings Rutgers a more active recruiter in the role of offensive coordinator. Friedgen did not hit the road in the weeks leading into Signing Day, and was not always active during on-campus recruiting visits. McDaniels can offer both, although the offensive coordinator is less involved in day-to-day recruiting than other assistants.
McDaniels was intentionally vague when asked about his play-calling style, but do not be surprised if there are more spread elements in the 2015 edition of the Rutgers offense.
The biggest question mark with what went down Tuesday afternoon via teleconference comes in the timing of the decision.
Flood said that he sat down with Friedgen after last week’s National Signing Day to discuss his future, and that is when the decision came. Less than a week later, Flood has his coordinator in place.
Credit Flood for swift action – spring practice is seven weeks away – but was there time to also explore external options? Flood explored external options before he promoted Joe Rossi in 2014. He did not in 2013 when he replaced Robb Smith with Dave Cohen as defensive coordinator.
“Ralph and I had decided that we were going to sit down after signing day and just really take stock of the situation and have a conversation about what would be the best thing to do going forward,” Flood said. “As we had that conversation, my thoughts turned to who would be who I thought would be the best person to lead our offense into the future, and it did not take me too long to decide that that would be Ben.”
Flood shook up the roles within his coaching staff Tuesday after he promoted McDaniels in a merry-go-round of changes. McDaniels replaces Friedgen at quarterback with Anthony Campanile replacing McDaniels at receiver and Phil Galiano replacing Campanile at tight end.
On top of that, Galiano takes over special teams play-calling duties from Bob Fraser in his return to on-field coaching.
The changes create questions for recruits and their relationships with the staff, but those are easily answered with phone calls and visits over the next month.
Galiano recruited South Jersey during his last Rutgers stint, and has been on the road recruiting since January. Rutgers could use more ammunition in that area of the state. Perhaps Galiano provides that.
“As an assistant, you're always going to have a recruiting area, and your positions and that sort of thing, but we're still working through as a staff what's going to happen with the recruiting areas,” Galiano said. “I think one of the huge advantages of being in the role I was in last year was just being able to build a relationship with all these 2016s, so I think that's going to be a huge help.”
So when Flood said in November that he expects his entire staff back in 2015, technically he was right on the Monday. Friedgen’s role sits undefined, but any presence at Rutgers is welcome as the new wave of Scarlet Knight quarterback begins competition.