(Gloucestercitynews.net)(March 26, 2020)--Greg Schiano has returned to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights after an absence of nine years. Schiano left the team after the 2011 season when he was appointed as head coach of the NFL franchise Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a successful tenure in New Jersey.
However, his time in the NFL was brought to an end after only two seasons. The Buccaneers fired Schiano at the conclusion of the 2013 campaign as a result of their 4-12 record. Schiano also built a tough-nosed reputation, which rubbed several of his players the wrong way causing reported disharmony in the locker room that led to his downfall.
It took time for another coaching opportunity to come along, joining the Ohio State Buckeyes as their defensive coordinator for the 2016 term. He worked well under Urban Meyer for the three seasons, although the National Championship evaded the Buckeyes. Schiano was responsible for the development of top talent during his time at Ohio State, with many players currently plying their trade in the NFL.
The 53-year-old made a dramatic U-turn last year, shunning the position of defensive coordinator at the New England Patriots, citing family reasons. However, once the Rutgers position became open, destiny brought Schiano back to the Scarlet Knights. He now has the huge challenge of reviving a struggling program, returning Rutgers to the competitive days of old during his tenure.
First Time Around
Schiano arrived at Rutgers in 2001 after a successful stint as defensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes. Under Terry Shea, the Scarlets Knights had endured a 3-8 campaign in the Big East. It took five seasons for Schiano to right the ship, including a 1-11 season in 2002. However, Rutgers kept faith in their coach and he rewarded their loyalty by ending their 27-year drought without a Bowl appearance, although the Scarlet Knights’ trip to the Insight Bowl ended in a 45-40 defeat to Arizona State. It was the beginning of a run that saw the team reach five Bowl games on the bounce.
Rutgers was ranked as high as 12th nationally in 2006, finishing second in the Big East behind Louisville, although they did triumph over the Cardinals with a brilliant performance on their home field. The high point of Schiano’s tenure came with a resounding victory over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl, even though three further Bowl victories were to follow through the emergence of talent such as Ray Rice. Then came the big move to the NFL with the Buccaneers, landing the signature of Schiano. He had earned plaudits from Bill Belichick, who advised the NFC outfit to hire the coach on the rise - sharing a lot of similarities with the Patriots' legend, especially in his dealings with media.
Schiano’s methods appeared to be working midway through the 2012 season, leaving his team on course for a playoff push. However, they collapsed down the stretch and he was never able to establish a grip on the Buccaneers from that point onwards. Schiano lost the locker room with a number of contentious decisions and his brash attitude towards certain individuals, which led to catastrophe on the field. It was no surprise when he was fired at the end of the 2013 season, as per Bleacher Report, with an NFL record of 11-21. He now returns to his old stomping ground, looking to rebuild his reputation as a head coach.
Will Schiano Turn Rutgers Around?
The Buccaneers was a difficult landing spot for Schiano. No coach has enjoyed success at the franchise since Jon Gruden led them to a Super Bowl triumph in the 2002 season – the only bright spot in the history of Tampa Bay. It remains to be seen whether even the great Tom Brady can lead them to their first NFC South crown in 13 years in 2020, with the Bucs backed at +175 as of March 26th in the betting odds to win their division.
It’s difficult to judge whether Schiano’s methods and coaching style were to blame given that he was only in the building for two years. He did not have a great deal of time to build his own roster, while he endured problems at the quarterback position between Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon. Both players lacked quality, highlighted by the fact that neither are currently on an active NFL roster.
Schiano’s biggest strength has been coaching sound fundamentals, especially for players operating in the secondary. Belichick’s Patriots have always taken particular note of players emerging from Schiano’s system. Devin and Jason McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon were essential parts of three Super Bowl wins for the Patriots in the last six years, having learned their trade at Rutgers. Even at Ohio State, he helped mold Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward into elite cornerbacks.
Second time around, Schiano will have confidence in his ability to rebuild a team that finished 2-10 last season. It may take time, but on the basis of the talent of his coaching, Rutgers should be relevant once again in the near future.