Greg Schiano is headed back to Rutgers. According to multiple media reports, Schiano, who most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, will return to the university where he rose to prominence as a head coach. The news of the reunion was first reported by Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.
Source: Greg Schiano has agreed in principle to become the next coach at Rutgers.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 1, 2019
Soon after, it was confirmed by Keith Sargent, James Kratch, and Steve Politi of NJ.com, who documented all the weirdness that occurred recently regarding the two sides coming together. Earlier in the week, it was reported that Schiano and Rutgers could not come to terms on a deal to give him the job, with NJ.com saying that “Rutgers and Schiano broke off talks in controversial fashion after Rutgers balked at some of the coach’s requests in his final counter-offer.”
Once this happened, a gigantic backlash occurred against a number of university administrators, most notably athletic director Pat Hobbs.
Prominent boosters publicly have called for Hobbs’ firing. Other top donors have threatened to withhold planned and future pledges. Many season-ticket holders and rank-and-file fans also have called for Hobbs’ firing and Schiano’s return, blaming Hobbs – who many believe didn’t want Schiano in the first place, had to be convinced to interview him and them sabotaged the negotiations by painting Schiano as greedy.
The initial failed courtship also sparked intense interest in Trenton, with Gov. Phil Murphy intervening while two former governors, Chris Christie and Richard Codey, publicly sparred over Schiano.
Rutgers had its best stretch in recent memory under Schiano. He was at the helm from 2001-11, leading the team to a 68-67 record. Most notably, Rutgers went 11-2 in 2006 and finished tied for second in the Big East, rising as high as No. 7 in the AP Poll, the highest ranking the university has ever achieved. He left to take over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was the head coach for two years before getting fired, and eventually went to Ohio State in 2016 as its defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Schiano joined the New England Patriots as their defensive coordinator in February of this year, but resigned after a month.
Much has happened with the Scarlet Knights’ football program since Schiano jumped to the NFL. Rutgers is one of college football’s most difficult situations, as their move to the Big Ten in 2014 hasn’t worked out as planned. The program has gone 20-52 since that move, which has placed them in the same division as top-15 programs like Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Adding to it is that keeping high school talent home is awfully tough, as top programs nationwide place a premium on getting the best players from the talent-rich state of New Jersey. It’s a brutally tough job, but Schiano has shown he knows how to win there and how to recruit in the Garden State.
As for whether it will work out, that remains to be seen, and Schiano has quite the uphill battle ahead of him as he tries to build a program that can win games in one of the toughest divisions in the sport. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that if he can’t get the job done, it won’t be for a lack of support from fans and boosters.