PISCATAWAY — If Rutgers had been off on the first weekend in October last season, the school might have lured former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen out of retirement a lot earlier.
Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood disclosed Tuesday that he talked to Friedgen about becoming the team’s offensive coordinator last season, but was turned down because the veteran coach’s daughter, Kelly, was getting married.
“I had too much money sunk into it to say I could coach unless he had an open date on Oct. 5,” Friedgen quipped.
When Flood telephoned again after offensive coordinator Ron Prince left Rutgers to join the Detroit Lions, the 66-year-old Friedgen jumped at the chance to return to the college ranks.
“I really missed the association with the players,” Friedgen said in a conference call to introduce the Scarlet Knights’ three new coordinators. “That was the biggest thing I missed. I couldn’t replace that in my life. '
Friedgen said working in a recent all-star game got his coaching juices flowing again. Having his wife, Gloria, tell him to get out of the house more also helped.
With the exception of receiver Brandon Coleman, who is leaving school early to join the NFL, Friedgen gets most of his offense back for Rutgers’ first season in the Big Ten Conference. The biggest question will be whether quarterback Gary Nova can regain the job he lost because of ineffectiveness during a 6-7 season.
Friedgen has been meeting with players and watching videotape since being hired five days ago, the same day that Flood promoted Joe Rossi to defensive coordinator and hired Bob Fraser as special teams coordinator.
The specials teams coach the past two seasons, Rossi served as the interim defensive coordinator for the Pinstripe Bowl in a 29-16 loss to Notre Dame after Dave Cohen was fired following the regular season. Fraser is returning to Rutgers after two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Friedgen has operated option, pro, one-back and two-back offenses in his career. He won’t decide which to use at Rutgers until he knows what the players can do.
Friedgen spent 10 seasons at Maryland, posting a 75-50 record. He was fired in 2010 despite leading the Terps to a 9-4 record. He has long resume as an offensive coordinator working with the San Diego Chargers of the NFL, and Georgia Tech, Maryland, Murray State, William & Mary and The Citadel.
Flood said he elevated Rossi based on his work at the school, his work at the Pinstripe Bowl and talks in the last month.
“We’ll be very similar to what we’ve done,” Rossi said. “We’ll be an attacking defense. We’ll be a defense that’s opportunistic. The things that we’ve been able to do at Rutgers over the years that have allowed us to play great defense are going to continue to be the things we’re going to look to do.”
Lack of experience, injuries and the loss of seven starters from the previous season caused Rutgers to struggle on defense in 2013.
This will be Fraser’s third tour with Rutgers, adding he followed the Scarlet Knights while away the last two years.
“In a lot of ways I felt like I never left,” Fraser said.