The future of Rutgers football scheduling continues to look up with Big Ten membership a season away. But the way Kyle Flood sees things, it could be even better if other programs took the same approach in schedule games.
The search for games has not been easy for Rutgers, which got turned down by other teams because of its level of competition, Flood said. Because Rutgers plays so many close games with tough defense, finding home and home games are a challenge.
“When you have a program that is competitive the way we are and has achieved on the level that we have, it’s not always easy to get games and find teams that are willing to play you in a home-and-home setting,” Flood said. “We were very excited to play Arkansas in a home-and-home.”
Flood wants the chance to play against the same teams he faces in recruiting. Rutgers frequently finds itself recruiting against Big Ten programs like Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, but also clashes with SEC foes for some of the top players in New Jersey.
“To be very honest with you, there were other SEC teams that wouldn’t play us and that’s unfortunate because I know they like to come up here and recruit and we certainly would love the opportunity to play them on the field,” Flood said. “As we go out and recruit, I think our players saw last year when we played Arkansas and when we played the rest of our schedule we can compete with anybody in the country.
“We are not going to limit ourselves in terms of who is out there and will gives us an opportunity to play but I can’t say that everybody else always feels the same way.”
Rutgers opens 2014 with newly scheduled Washington State before hosting the program at High Point Solutions Stadium in 2015. Getting a game against the Pac-12 was key for Flood and it represents the types of opponents Rutgers wants on its non-conference schedule.
“I think it’s, on a couple levels, a really exciting game,” Flood said. “Certainly with the quality of the program, Mike Leach has done a tremendous job out there.
“I think it also gives us, in our first year in the Big Ten, an opportunity to play against a Pac-12 school. I think all of us probably grew up watching the rivalries between those two conferences over the years. It’s exciting for us, in our first game in that conference to play against a school in the Pac-12.”
Flood credited senior associate athletic director Jason Baum with organizing the series.
“Jason handles all of our scheduling for football in the athletic department and Jason and I sit down and we kind of look at who’s available out there,” Flood said. “…We were looking for a game that we felt would be an exciting game for our players, an exciting game for our fans and, really, the only stipulation that I have is I want it to be a home and home. If we’re going to go somewhere, we want them to come back. That’s what was so exciting about Arkansas.”