PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers fired offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson on Sunday, two days after the team's third straight Big Ten loss.
Head coach Greg Schiano announced the move, which comes following the sixth game of Gleeson’s third season with the Scarlet Knights (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten).
Letting go of the 36-year-old Gleeson marks the first time that Schiano has let go of a coach mid-season.
“It’s my job to make sure we’re playing complimentary football and I feel our football team can win plenty of games when we play complementary football and as the head coach, that’s your job,” Schiano said. “And when it’s not happening, you try to fix it.”
The Rutgers offense has struggled this season. The team ranks No. 108 in total offense (334 yards per game), No. 104 in scoring offense (22.8 PPG) and No. 118 in team passing efficiency. Rutgers lost to Nebraska (3-3, 2-1) 14-13 on Friday night, mustering 85 total yards and no points in the second half.
Meanwhile, Rutgers ranks No. 14 in total defense and No. 16 in third-down conversion percentage defense.
“In college football, at the end of the day, you need to score points. And we just aren’t scoring enough points, and I want our offense to be as much of a weapon as our defense right now. That’s not to drive any kind of wedge. I think we’re capable of doing that.”
Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile will serve as the interim offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Campanile served as the interim head coach at Rutgers between Schiano’s hiring and his predecessor Chris Ash’s firing.
While he has a short list of candidates in his back pocket, Schiano said he will focus on Gleeson’s permanent replacement after the season. As the interim, Campanile will essentially have a seven-week tryout, Schiano said.
Gleeson was hired by Schiano as his first offensive coordinator in his second stint at the school.
Rutgers has the week off before hosting Indiana (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) on Saturday, Oct. 22.
Gleeson, from Glenn Ridge, New Jersey, was the first Rutgers assistant to be paid over a million dollars. He'll be paid the remainder of his salary on his deal, which is set to expire after 2023. He will be paid $1,025,000 this year and $1,050,000 in 2023.
Seen as a wunderkind for his work coordinating Princeton and Oklahoma State's offense, he began his tenure at Rutgers with some innovative play-calling. However, the offense has struggled to produce yards or points this season.
The Scarlet Knights have had a quarterback carousel, with senior captain Noah Vedral injured to start the season. Prized recruit Gavin Wimsatt was injured in the third game of the season, and Evan Simon was also splitting time.
“I believe we can win games this year, otherwise, I wouldn’t have made this change,” Schiano said. “You can do it the traditional way and wait until the end of the season, but I believe we can win games this year if we play complimentary football. That’s why it happened now.”
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