Is Rutgers Back?

Schiano Recruits top Talent for the Next Three Years!


Christian Lalin

On September 4, 2016, University of Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes dove for the endzone, stretching the ball out in front of him. Swoopes passed the goal line and scored for the Longhorns giving them the 50-47 double-overtime win against the eleventh-ranked Notre Dame Irish. In the craze of the commotion, ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore declared “Texas is Back,” explaining that after years in a lull period of losses and underachieving, Texas had returned to its place as a part of college football’s major blueblood football programs. 

On November 21, 2020, I watched as Rutgers football forced not one but two overtimes against Michigan and declared that “Rutgers is back!” (well…kind of). Only in a year as confusing as 2020 could a team like Rutgers be declared “back.” Yet, by this same token, only a school like Rutgers could be praised for such a great start to a season with an abysmal 1-4 record. To understand this perspective on Rutgers one has to travel all the way back to 2017 when Rutgers had their last Big Ten win against a lowly Maryland team that finished last in the Big 10 conference with a 4-8 record. After that game, Rutgers underwent a 21 game Big Ten losing streak which saw them losing games by a margin of 321 (points for Rutgers) to 1194 (points for the opposition). 

However, the most impressive stat about Rutgers close game on Saturday was about who it was against. Michigan has historically dominated Rutgers, especially since their narrow defeat against Rutgers back in 2014 by a slim two points. In fact, since that loss, Michigan has beaten Rutgers by a margin of 446 (Michigan) to 37 (Rutgers). Additionally, Rutgers is just four years removed from a whopping 78-0 shutout loss against Michigan back in 2016 at home. Even though Michigan may not be having their best season, all signs point to improvement and potential for Rutgers’ football program. Earlier in the season, Rutgers claimed their first Big Ten win since the aforementioned losing streak and have been within one possession of in two of their four losses. Furthermore, they stayed well within the spread of 39 points against Ohio State and played a one-loss Indiana team tight at home. In addition, Rutgers’ first-year head coach Greg Schiano (on his second stint with Rutgers as a head coach) has done a good job at recruiting future talent. Schiano has pieced together the 61st best-recruiting class in the nation for the 2020 season. For the 2021 season, Rutgers has the 38 ranked class in the country, and then for the 2022 class, Rutgers has the 22nd ranked class ranking 4th in the Big 10 power rankings.  The future looks bright indeed.

So as I watched that 42-48 overtime loss for Rutgers that broke the heart of Rutgers fans across the country, as a local New Jerseyian, I sat proud of my state team looking at improvement both in recruiting and on the field. Greg Schiano seems to be the answer for the state program that has been waiting for their team to return to the glory days of Coach Schiano’s first stint at Rutgers back in 2006 when he led the team to a victory over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl and an 11-2 record. Maybe this was just me reading too much into a loss to an average Michigan team, or maybe Rutgers really does have a bright future. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, I speak for all of New Jersey when I say: Go Scarlet Knights!