Hoosiers focus on task at hand with reeling Rutgers on tap

Rutgers interim head coach Nunzio Campanile, center left, shakes hands with Maryland head coach Michael Locksley after an NCAA college football game, Saturday Oct. 5, 2019, in Piscataway, N.J.

The former reality TV show “Dirty Jobs” named episodes after the dirty job — Worm Grunter, Toilet Crusher, etc. — being featured.

The show’s eight-season run somehow missed a natural: Rutgers Interim Football Coach.

Nunzio Campanile got that gig a week ago, when Rutgers fired Chris Ash. The job immediately got worse when Rutgers’ starting quarterback, Art Sitkowski, and one of its best players, running back Raheem Blackshear, asked not to play in Saturday’s game with Maryland.

It was Rutgers’ fifth game of the season. The NCAA now allows players to appear in four games while still redshirting that year, thereby preserving a year of eligibility.

Sitkowski and Blackshear have opted to take the rest of the season off. Campanile granted the request — like he had a choice — but was less than delighted about it.

In related news, Rutgers lost to Maryland, 48-7. You may recall what Penn State did to Maryland the previous week.

“Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly,” Campanile told the Associated Press after the game.

“Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that’s the way the world is now.

“I think that this is a game about your team, you know, 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, you know, ‘Worry about you, worry about you.’ I get it.”

Sitkowski and Blackshear were in uniform Saturday. Their teammates expressed support for them in interviews Saturday.

And they’re not alone.

After Houston started 1-3, QB D’Eriq King and WR Keith Corbin shut it down for the year, King saying he intends to stay at Houston and start fresh next year.

Other players, like Missouri starting QB Kelly Bryant, have left their schools (Clemson, in Bryant’s case) four games into the season, in effect erasing that year in eligibility terms.

The rule in question has a lot to recommend it, for players and coaches. It creates roster flexibility, gives players a chance to jump-start their careers, allows players and teams to deal with injuries properly, etc.

But the rule surely wasn’t intended to allow players to shut it down for the year. The law of unintended consequences would seem to apply.

“I worry that we’re creating a situation where it’s path of least resistance,” Penn State coach James Franklin said about the rule and other reforms in February.

“And in my life I don’t know if that’s ever been the right choice or the right path. So I’m concerned.

“I’m just a big believer that this model has worked for a very long time. And it’s not perfect. It really isn’t. But there’s so much good that comes from this. And I just worry that the direction this is going, that at some point, the model is going to break.”

Rutgers hasn’t won a Big Ten game or beat a Power Five opponent since Nov. 4, 2017. The aggregate score of its three conference games this year is 130-7.

The Scarlet Knights come to Happy Valley in Week 12, right after Penn State goes to Ohio State.

What an electric atmosphere that should be.