Earlier today, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood took advantage of the opportunity to defend his name. He spoke out and admirably defended himself against a rash of the most recent allegations hurled his way in what has been a week of drama in Piscataway.
The latest bout of drama focused on an incident that happened in the days following Rutgers' loss to Louisville on Oct 10th. Flood announced a few days after that game that redshirt freshman Ian Thomas had decided to leave the program and was going to be pursuing a career in baseball, most likely at another institution.
Last night, in what has seemed like the continuation of a witch hunt by a rookie beat writer, Flood was accused of lying about his interactions with Thomas.
At the conclusion of today's practice, Flood offered up his response.
"I'm not used to these kind of articles coming out the way they did. I think it was unfortunate," Flood said. "I think had the facts been given ahead of time this could've been avoided. I don't appreciate the fact that my wife and my children had to wake up this morning to an article that paints their father as a liar and somebody who is dishonest.
"I built my relationships in this part of the country over the last 20 years and I've spent a lot of time doing it and everyone I've built has been built on honesty. If you talk to the people in athletics and on campus here at Rutgers and the high school coaches in this state and in the State of Rutgers and the other people I've done business with I think they'll tell you that."
Flood also touched on Thomas' previous mentions of his desire to play baseball.
"Other facts that I think are important to the story are Director of Academic Support For Athletics Scott Walker was contacted by Ian's father prior to this no less than two times to discuss Ian playing baseball at Rutgers," Flood said. "At some point earlier in the season when Ian was still on our team he had a conversation with one of our captains Jamal Merrell in which he stated his heart was in baseball."
Walker, Rutgers' director for academic support services for Rutgers student-athletes, backed up Flood's story.
"I've had two conversations about that with him [the father] and numerous conversations with Ian," Walker said today. "Partly because I'm into baseball. I coach baseball and my son plays baseball. So we talked about 'When's the move?' Kind of like [ex-Rutgers defensive back] Pat Kivlehan. When do you make the move from football to playing baseball? So that's been an ongoing discussion, as recently as a month ago."
Rutgers won't play a game for another three days when the Scarlet Knights will visit Central Florida on Thursday night. But the way Flood handled himself today goes down as a much-needed win in what has been a past week of turmoil.
Unfortunately, his opponent today was a rookie beat writer with a little more than a week of experience covering the Rutgers football team. And while most football players would laugh and shake their heads at this kind of tabloid journalism, this is the kind of drivel that has been making headlines.
Nonetheless, with a big game coming up on Thursday, the Rutgers players remain focused on the task at hand and fully supportive of their head coach.
"I still have all the confidence in the world in coach Flood," said junior linebacker Kevin Snyder. "I have seen the kind of coach he is. He's been my coach for two years. I love the way he runs our program. I love the way we prepare and the way he motivates us to play the game."