It’s a time of transition at Rutgers right now with now-former head coach Chris Ash our the door and the team moving on to finish the rest of the year under an interim staff. Saturday saw the first of those efforts and it wasn’t pretty in a 48-7 home loss to Maryland, even if such lopsided scores have been common place for the team the past few seasons.
While most Scarlet Knights followers are focused on the ongoing coaching search, there is a more pressing issue that has made headlines in Piscataway recently in the form of key players sitting out after four games in order to take a redshirt under NCAA rules. It surfaced earlier in the week that QB Artur Sitkowski approached the staff about not playing against the Terps — a move which was generally supported around the program.
The signal-caller wasn’t the only one to hit pause however, as reports just before kickoff on Saturday indicated that tailback Raheem Blackshear would be following suit as well. It seems that decision was taken quite differently by the coaching staff as the junior was last year’s leading rusher and has been their leading receiver in 2019 as well.
“Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly. Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that’s the way the world is now,” interim head coach Nunzio Campanile said after the game. “I think that this is a game about your team, and it’s about sacrificing personal accomplishment for the success of the team. But that’s the world they live in and they have got a lot of people telling them, ‘Worry about you, worry about you.’
“I get it. But I’m raising two boys. I’m trying to raise them about being willing to sacrifice some of the things they want for what’s good for the people around them. I get it. That’s the world that we are living in, and he’s a great kid and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.”
Blackshear would have two years of eligibility remaining if he winds up redshirting in 2019 and as a current upperclassmen already its possible he could be in a position to graduate transfer down the road and play right away elsewhere next season.
Sitkowski, on the other hand, has only played in three games this season and has indicated he could still play in a fourth down the road at Rutgers if new starter Johnny Langan gets injured or previous starter McLane Carter doesn’t get healthy. That’s not quite an option with Blackshear.
In the end Rutgers is going to Rutgers but you can bet this whole saga in upstate New Jersey is being closely watched by others around the country on how to deal with or not to deal with a coaching change mid-season.