By gosh if one believes Rutgers to be a better job than Mississippi State they must’ve been hit plum upside the head by a weighted cowbell. We’re not deliberating between Cadillac and Kia either, more Ford and Flintstone Mobile sans steering wheel. 

Rutgers’ self-sabotage started the moment they signed on board to join the Big Ten. They are seated at the same card table as the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions for bouts of long-standing ineptitude. Relax Clippers fans, and I’m sure you’re a big segment of our reading audience, the nightmare ended officially when Mr. Six’s eldest son bought the team. This is not Los Angeles. This is not the Los Angeles of New Jersey, which I guess is the Jersey Shore. Things are bad. 

Have been for quite some time. Couldn’t even get creative with the central casting hire of the interim head coach. Watching one heralded in-state recruit after another leave for Penn State and other institutions outside of Piscataway creates disgust into disinterest.   

So why would anyone want a job in ruins in the basement of FBS desirability? 

Desperation creates overextension in the form of guarantees and necessary patience.

The school’s fan base (the donating sort) and administration see the glaring ineptitude of the football program, of the previous head coach hired with no ties to the area and the lifeless and hapless existence that turns more and more dreary with each passing week. Poor word choice. Passing isn’t what Rutgers does, see October 12 versus Indiana. Why would any SEC coach take that sort of burden?

Because Joe Moorhead can negotiate a sweetheart of a deal if he chooses to leave Mississippi State for New Jersey’s state university.  

As early as one year ago Moorhead’s stature raised him above the Rutgers and Kansas gigs of the world. The former offensive coordinator’s stock would never be higher than it was at Penn State. He no longer had the legs of Saquon Barkley to inflate his intelligence and exactitude as a play caller and he turned that year into a head coaching gig. 

Moorhead found a spot with a defense that had three players drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He’d coach through the offense and stay one or two years in Starkville before another choice emerged. Nice plan, poor execution. The 2019 Bulldogs finished 8-5. Things are more bleak this season. 

The 2019 season is desecrated by academic fraud issues that has most fans clanging the cowbell in anger, not exaltation. There’s a difference. I have an ear for cowbells thanks to my appreciation of “Honkey Tonk Women.”

Moorhead admitted his poor performance this season after the loss to Tennessee, had his daughter endure the vitriol of some brisket-stained State fans who think a coach’s daughter needs to hear how a fan’s life is a toxic teeter totter because of their favorite college football team, and failed to maintain an abnormally high standard Dan Mullen created during his time with Mississippi State that apexed in 2014 with the school’s only double-digit win season since 2000.

A move to Rutgers gives Moorhead a chance at the savior role instead of the caretaker gig from his last change of ownership. Moorhead would move to a place with more money dumped into the sport on both the total costs side of things and recruiting. Money is available, and pressure won’t involve hissing nastiness at one’s family. Forget about the Greg Schiano sect too, even if it includes PJ Fleck.

The stump speech from the Minnesota coach after his team defeated Rutgers on the road ended with an endorsement for Schiano to return to Rutgers for a second stint. Looking past the self-promotion and everything-is-a-potential-catchphrase of Fleck, he’s a prominent name who used his platform to maximum level. 

The Schiano camp will be rendered silent if Moorhead shows signs of improvement in his first year and approaches a bowl in his third. It won’t take long for the drum beat for a 68-67 head coach to be silenced. Rutgers  has no choice but to extend the benefit of the doubt to any head coach. 

Moorhead has time on his side if he jumps to Rutgers. He can also ask for the sort of assistant’s budget that does not limit the caliber of position coaches and coordinators he wishes to hire. With a nod to the fertile blue-chip area that is New Jersey, he seems smart enough to dig local and establish relationships with the high school coaches in-state. He can ask for all of these assurances on the school level and if athletic director Pat Hobbs is free from a meeting with other people hired to do his job, get a conference assurance that Rutgers is no longer thrown into the deep end with iceboxes fastened to both of its ankles and the Big Ten divvies up the conference heavies to chase either one of the dominant teams in conference to the Lloyd Carr division or whatever other name comes to fruition. 

We understand the ceiling at Rutgers, and Rutgers appears to finally be at the same epiphany. If granted a total tear down of the program and carte blanche in decisions, Moorhead can make Rutgers better. And better is a big step.

Also, there’ll be the best sort of cowbells: no cowbells.