A Look at the New Rutgers Coaches
Feb 15, 2012
By: Jim Myers- SOR Columnist
Rutgers New Coaches
It may have taken a bit longer than some wanted, but the Rutgers football coaching staff is coming into shape as head coach Kyle Flood announced six additions to the staff on Feb. 13 (five on the offensive side of the ball). Flood also promoted Robb Smith from special teams coach to defensive coordinator, moved Phil Galiano from defensive line to special teams coordinator and promoted Jeremy Cole from assistant to head strength and conditioning coach. There is definitely a Northeast flavor to the 2012 coaching staff. Let’s take a look at each new coach.
Dave Brock (Offensive Coordinator; formerly tight ends coach and interim offensive coordinator at Boston College): Brock has ties to Flood from their days together on the Hofstra coaching staff in the late 1990s; Flood was an offensive line coach while Brock was the offensive coordinator in 2000 and 2001. Brock, a New Jersey native, brings two decades of offensive work to the Banks. This is his fourth stint as an offensive coordinator (not counting the interim tag at BC halfway through the 2011 season), having also guided Kansas State offense that scored nearly 35 points per game in 2008 and leading Temple’s offense from 2002-2004 (Temple was still a Big East school then). This will be Brock’s first OC job running a truly pro-style attack.
Damian Wroblewski (Offensive Line; formerly assistant head coach/offensive line/recruiting coordinator at Delaware): Wroblewski was promoted to assistant head coach at Delaware when Kirk Ciarrocca bolted for Rutgers in 2008. Now he finds himself following a path very similar to Flood, having coached at both Hofstra and Delaware. Wroblewski is a respected offensive line coach and a recruiter, focusing on Maryland and the west coast of Florida during his time with the Blue Hens.
Darnell Dinkins (Tight Ends; formerly assistant tight ends coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Pro football fans may recognize Dinkins from his days as a tight end with the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints, where he won a Super Bowl on his last NFL stop. Dinkins, who played free safety at the University of Pittsburgh, brings a much-needed pro perspective for RU’s tight ends. Dinkins only has one year of coaching experience, but he surely knows what it takes to stick around the big leagues.
Rob Spence (Quarterbacks; formerly offensive coordinator at Bethune-Cookman): Here’s an interested fact: Kyle Flood was the first player Rob Spence ever recruited when the latter was offensive coordinator at Iona in 1989. Spence has served as offensive coordinator at seven different colleges, including 1997-99 while Flood was the offensive line coach (Spence preceded Brock in Hempstead). Spence knows the Big East and served as offensive coordinator at Syracuse from 2008-09 (Syracuse ambushed Rutgers 31-13 in 2009, but Spence was fired following that season). The veteran knows the game and has connections all over the Eastern Seaboard.
Ben Sirmans (Running Backs; formerly running backs coach at Boston College): The East Orange native returns to the Garden State after mentoring BC’s running backs the last five seasons. Among his accomplishments was coaching Montel Harris, the leading rusher in BC history. Sirmans played running back at Maine under Kirk Ferentz (who has been the head man at Iowa since 1999) and has coached running backs at four programs prior to Rutgers (BC, Kent State, Michigan State and Maine).
Dave Cohen (Linebackers; formerly defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Western Michigan): Cohen is the only former head coach added to the staff, as he guided Hofstra from 2006 until the school discontinued football in 2009. Cohen served on the same Delaware coaching staff from 2002-2005 (Cohen as DC, Flood as OL). Cohen’s three years at WMU were the only ones on the FBS level during his coaching career, but he has a reputation for coaching aggressive, ball-hawking defenses (though WMU was admittedly mediocre in 2011). According to Flood, one of Cohen’s upsides is his ability to recruit the New York Metropolitan area.
Robb Smith (elevated from special teams coordinator to defensive coordinator): He’s not new to the Rutgers staff, but Smith is new to his role as the defensive coordinator of the Scarlet Knights. RU’s special teams were remarkable under Smith last season, recording nine blocked kicks and returning one kickoff for a touchdown. It remains to be seen whether the defense will play with the same aggression that the special teams displayed, and Smith does not have the Greg Schiano pedigree as defensive coordinator. However, he groomed Maine into a top-three FCS defense as the DC from 2006-08. RU is loaded for bear on the defensive side of the ball, so it makes little sense to usher in wholesale schematic changes.
There are still some questions left unanswered in the coaching staff. For example, who is going to handle the defensive line? It could remain Galiano, who coached the D line in 2011. However, Rutgers has performed poorly with a coach maintaining split duties. The other nagging question is how the Knights will perform on the recruiting trail now that Jeff Hefley is gone for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hefley deserves much credit for back-to-back recruiting classes at Rutgers the last two years, and his talents are hard to come by. Sure, the “State of Rutgers” should be covered well by this group, but there’s not much of a connection to South Florida. Galliano – who left Rutgers to serve as FIU’s defensive coordinator for two years – and Spence have some ties to that all-important area, though RU has de-emphasized South Florida in recent years.