One of the truly wretched stories this young college football season is how the wheels haven't just come off the Rutgers Football program, they've flown off in the direction of a busload of metaphorical orphans. Not only is Rutgers 0-3, but they're being booed at home, the team seems to be in disarray, and their starting quarterback Mike Teel is taking swings at his teammates.
The Knights' embattled quarterback did what a lot of Rutgers fans probably want to do at this point: He took a swipe at a teammate after his latest interception -- his sixth this year against one touchdown pass -- sealed Navy's 23-21 victory with 1:34 to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and sent Rutgers to its first 0-3 start in nine years.
Fittingly, the way the season is going, he missed.
It's scary to think how quickly Rutgers has gone from out of nowhere BCS contender to train wreck. And it's not just Teel's play that's concerning. Schiano's press conference after the game was a small disaster by itself when Schiano couldn't explain why the team's leading rusher didn't even see the field.
"That was unfortunate,'' he said. "For him not to get any touches, that wasn't the plan. Sometimes the game gets going and you have a hot hand and you keep riding that hot hand. But we wanted to use three backs.
"I would have to investigate further. and look - there was no padlock on my headset, I could have said, 'Put mason in there.' It was just, we had guys that were hot and we kept going that way.
This isn't to suggest that the iceberg has finally struck the SS Rutgers. Schiano built a program out of nothing with his bare hands, determination, and what I can only guess is a deal with some form of otherworldly power/diety. But to continue playing a quarterback who has obviously lost his mojo, while admittedly forgetting who was available to play that afternoon is concerning to anyone who follows college football.
Despite this, you can't lay the blame solely on Schiano. This is not an easy way to open a season for ANY team. A quick glance at Rutgers schedule reminds you the Scarlet Knights first three games are among the toughest season openers in the country. Take a look: a home opening loss to a very good Fresno State team; a thumping at the hands of an extremely talented and deangerous Tar Heel team; and a road loss to a Navy squad that went 8-5 last year. These are tough games.
But they're also games you expect a team with a fifth-year quarterback to win. Especially when the Knights have won 26 games in the last 3 years (7, 11, 8). But, frankly, they're not as good as they we're last year, especially with the departure of workhorse tailback (and second round draft pick) Ray Rice.
Schiano's got his work cut out for him. Some will speculate that maybe it's all the offseason nonsense surrounding the offering and refusal of the Michigan job that Rich Rodriguez eventually took. Maybe it's the distraction of the soon to be availability of the Penn State job he's long been rumored to covet with Paterno's health beginning to become a question as he sits in the press box. Maybe it's the play calling or simply the execution by a team that isn't used to carrying a bulls-eye on its back.
But either way, Schiano's got to get things turned around or the Michigan job may be the only high profile job he'll ever be offered. Worse, if he doens't fix things, Rutgers may sink back into the college football obvilion from whence it came.