PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 1: Savon Huggins #28 of Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates a touchdown along with teammate Joe Martinek #38 during the first half of a college football game against North Carolina Central Eagles on September 1, 2011 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
The good folks at Athlon again invited me to represent Big East Coast Bias and participate in a roundtable discussion about Big East football. This time, we answered the question: Is Rutgers A Big East Title Contender In 2012, Even With The Loss Of Greg Schiano? I answered in the affirmative. You can see my answer below and all of the answers here.
Rutgers is definitely a Big East contender despite Greg Schiano's departure for the NFL. First, Greg Schiano never won the Big East title outright as a coach at Rutgers, anyway. So while I've always respected the amazing job he did at Rutgers in building that program from almost nothing, it's not as though he was a championship coach that needs replacing. We may very well come to find that Flood and his made over staff are better managers of big games.
Second, Rutgers will compete for the Big East title because it has as much talent as Louisville, the main contender, and more than the rest of the conference. One thing Schiano did well was recruit, and Kyle Flood did a good job holding on the last recruiting class once he departed. Most of the starters from last year's defense, which was the best in the Big East, return and will be buttressed by the addition of a number of highly rated freshmen. Flood's got a talented and now experienced offensive line, a blue chip running back in Savon Huggins, and is determined to settle on one quarterback.
Third, Rutgers is a Big East title contender because it gets Louisville at home in the final game of the regular season in what should be a de facto Big East championship game. Having the home field advantage in a game of that magnitude, especially if it is especially cold that time of year, could be the difference between winning and losing and heading to a BCS Bowl in 2012.