NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Social media was already buzzing with speculation as to who was going to succeed Chris Ash as Rutgers football coach before he had a chance to clear out his office.
Greg Schiano has been mentioned as the lead candidate so often that it was surprising that it took about 6 1/2 minutes into Athletic Director Pat Hobbs' press conference Monday for the former coach's name to come up.
Underneath the din of firings and possible re-hirings is Nunzio Campanile.
The interim Rutgers head coach is a New Jersey-born and bred guy with an impressive high school coaching resume and a penchant for grooming outstanding quarterbacks.
It doesn't matter to him that Schiano's specter hangs over the program like a hulking linebacker about to blindside a quarterback.
Campanile is treating this as an eight-game tryout for the job of a lifetime.
When asked Monday if he would be interested in being the full-time coach, Campanile said: "I would tell you that I've worked my entire life to prepare myself for this opportunity and to me, this is like the Holy Grail, so of course. But I understand there's a lot more that goes into that and that's way over my head. I'm just going to go do my job the best I can."
Campanile is eager to lift the sagging Scarlet Knights, who are coming off Big Ten losses to Iowa and Michigan by a combined score of 82-0.
He started watching Maryland on film and getting ready for Saturday's noon showdown at SHI Stadium. He's talked to the players, he's talked to assistant coaches and he's spent time, as he put it, getting his house in order.
In his first meeting with the media on Monday afternoon, he came off as a straight-shooting, all-business pro.
Everyone who has penciled Schiano in as the 2020 coach should first take a look at Campanile's high school record. He went 60-29 as head coach at Bergen Catholic. He led the Crusaders to the Non-Public Group 4 state title in 2017. He became head coach at Bergen Catholic in 2010 after serving as Don Bosco athletic director and offensive coordinator from 2000-09.
The most impressive accomplishment is this: The two all-time leaders in passing yards at Rutgers - Mike Teel and Gary Nova - were mentored by Campanile at Don Bosco.
Football is in his blood. His father, Mike, coached at Paramus Catholic. Then there are brothers Vito (head coach at Westwood, Bergen Catholic), Nick (offensive coordinator at DePaul) and Anthony (linebackers coach at Michigan).
Hobbs said he knew after Rutgers' 52-0 drubbing at the hands of Michigan on Saturday that he had to make a change.
"I just saw some things in terms of lack of offensive production; my concern about penalties and some of the things, and I think we have more talent in this room and on this team than we were showing in the game," Hobbs said.
Whether Campanile is the guy to cultivate that talent after this season remains to be seen.
"I guess we'll find out in the next eight weeks," Campanile said. "The truth is, I think that football is football. I've literally spent my entire life on a football field. I've been on a football team since I'm 5 years old. My dad is a coach. All my brothers are coaches. Basically every positive male influence in my life was a coach in some way, shape or form. You know, I think that I'm prepared to help these guys going forward, but the biggest thing is, you know, just keeping them focused on the task at hand. I'm not really worried about the future. I'm just worried about getting ready for practice tomorrow."