Rutgers Chooses Walsh Protege As Coach
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) _ Rutgers is turning to a disciple of Bill Walsh and West Coast offense to lead its football program out of the also-ran level of the Big East Conference and to its first bowl appearance since 1978.
Terry Shea, Walsh’s offensive coordinator and associate head coach at Stanford from 1992-94, was given a five-year contract on Wednesday and told to resurrect a program that has had four winning seasons in the last 15 years. The deal includes a $150,000 base salary and $150,000 in additional compensation the first year.
Shea, 49, replaces Doug Graber, who was fired Nov. 28 after posting a 29-36-1 record in six seasons, including a 4-7 mark this season when most expected the team to end the bowl drought.
Shea has only two years’ head coaching experience, but he guided San Jose State to a 9-2-1 record and an appearance in the California Raisin Bowl in 1990. The Spartans were 6-4-1 in his second season, sharing the Big West Conference championship.
``This cannot be a transition year for Rutgers because I won’t allow it to be,″ said Shea, quarterback coach for the CFL British Columbia Lions this season. ``I won’t allow our seniors to believe it because this is the most memorable year of their college development.″
Rutgers athletic director Fred Gruninger described Shea as a hands-on leader who understands athletes and would run an honest program.
Shea isn’t the big-name coach some people expected.
Glen Mason, who is leaving Kansas to take the Georgia job, and former North Carolina State coach Dick Sheridan were rumored to be the leading contenders early in the search. Shea surged to the front in the last week after Walsh and former Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil vigorously campaigned for his hiring.
Shea was offered the job Tuesday and quickly accepted, his wife, Susan, said. He even spoke to the team Wednesday afternoon, an hour before the press conference at which he was introduced.
Rutgers president Francis Lawrence said Shea was the only one offered the position.
Like his mentor, Shea plans to install a so-called West Coast offense and a 3-4 defense that will blitz.
``I believe the (offensive) system is one that can present different problems to teams not experienced in facing it,″ Shea said. ``I think the teams in the East have seen bits and pieces of it but not what they will see this coming season.″
The biggest problem Shea might face is recruiting. Because of the coaching change, many high school seniors either haven’t considered playing for the Scarlet Knights or they have decided to go elsewhere.
``Right now we are as far behind as any university in the eastern region,″ Shea said.
To catch up, Shea plans to telephone every top scholastic prospect on a list prepared for him for a transition team. He also plans to talk with his son, Garrett, a cornerback and wide receiver who has verbally committed to attend Ohio State next season.
``I would not mind if we signed nine players, so long as they are great players who will make contributions to Rutgers,″ Shea said.
Shea also said he plans to hire a coaching staff as quickly as possible, noting he has three candidates for defensive coordinator. He will handle the offensive coordinator job himself and call all the plays.
A former Oregon quarterback, Shea has been coaching since 1968, with stints at Oregon, Utah State and California. Listed among his pupils are Steve Stenstrom, Eric Hipple, Bob Gagliano and Mike Perez, who was 1986 national total offense leader while at San Jose State.