Greg Schiano should have dropped his little bullhorn and reached for the nearest pacifier. If he wanted to act like a baby, that would have been easier on everyone than this shameless dance with Michigan that exposed his grand vision as a hoax.
Schiano was feeling a little insecure over his 7-5 season and a lot angry over that $30 million rabbit Gov. Corzine just stuffed back in his hat. Schiano was going to show everyone that he was still a wanted commodity, even if his Scarlet Knights were stuck with Canada's answer to the Poulan Weedeater Bowl.
So a Jersey boy who grew into a Jersey coach for the purpose of winning a Jersey BCS bid was going to show Bruce Springsteen's state who was really the boss. Schiano sat down with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin for a conversation that apparently lasted longer than the French and Indian War.
The Wolverines made their lucrative bid, and Schiano walked away with what he wanted: a soothed ego, and a cold reminder to any Rutgers booster or money-grubbing politician looking at him sideways that he could leave his alleged dream job faster than the state pulled its stadium expansion funds.
Schiano wants to play that way? Here's an idea, tough guy: Next time someone offers you a bag of cash to dishonor everything you've told your Jersey kids about your only-in-Jersey plans, just take it and go.
By nearly accepting the Michigan job, you've already sent a clear message to recruits and players that you're just another coach whose loyalties are for sale.
Why would anyone now believe you won't replace Joe Paterno at Penn State when you almost replaced Lloyd Carr at Michigan, a coach and school offering none of the personal ties connecting you to Happy Valley?
How can a high school recruit now trust that your long-term commitment to Rutgers is different from, say, Tommy Amaker's long-term commitment to Seton Hall?
OK, Amaker left for Michigan and Schiano didn't. But then again, Amaker didn't build his entire approach around the notion that he was a local guy burning to win a local championship for the huddling rush-hour masses on the Garden State Parkway.
And that's been Schiano's sell from the start. On arrival, he declared that Rutgers, a joke program, actually could win the national title. He told everyone who asked that this was the one job he had always coveted.
Schiano had his breakthrough season last year, and then turned down Miami for a second time. The coach parlayed that brief flirtation into a $1.7 million annual take, a sweetheart land deal, and an $800,000 interest-free house loan that Rutgers is forgiving in $100,000 annual clips.
Everything was set up for a glorious 2007. The Scarlet Knights would start the season nationally ranked, with a Heisman contender, a veteran quarterback, a strong offensive line, and some talented receivers. Rutgers would play eight home games on an ultra-manageable schedule.
Then Schiano had his C-minus season. He lost back-to-back home games to Maryland and Cincinnati before getting blown out by West Virginia. Between losses to Connecticut and Louisville, Schiano took Corzine's hit from the blind side.
Enraged by the state bailing out, a bit embarrassed by the losing conference record and whoop-de-do trip to the International Bowl, Schiano made Michigan his tool of vengeance.