How has Greg Schiano changed since he was last at Rutgers?
Since Greg Schiano was last the head coach at Rutgers, he’s been the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the defensive coordinator/associate head coach at Ohio State.
He was with the Bucs for two seasons where he went 11-21 from 2012 to 2013. He didn’t join the Buckeyes until 2016 where he was for three years. In that time, he coached 10 players who were NFL Draft picks (five first-rounders) and Ohio State went 36-5 in that time.
Schiano also accepted a job with the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick in February of this year, only to leave in March.
Schiano was brought back to Rutgers and was officially introduced on Wednesday morning when he held his press conference.
It’s been eight years since was the leader of the Scarlet Knights on the gridiron, and he’s been through a lot since then.
“Well, I'll tell you. Since I left here eight years ago, a lot has happened and some of that's been in pro football. I learned a ton. I've been humbled,” Schiano said.
After months off with his family, he wanted to get back in the game.
“But you know, the people that you really know got your back, like Bill Belichick, I started working there, and I loved working there, but I just felt -- coaching is a very selfish business and like I said earlier, my wife, Christy, she raised our kids and I tried to jump in when I could. I just felt like it had been about me for 30 years and it was time to work on myself a little bit and spend time with my children and my wife,” Schiano said. “It was the best eight months that I've had. But you know what, I had a boss in Bill Belichick who is a true friend and he was awesome. He understood and he gave me his blessing, and that's really what made it easier to do. I'll always cherish those memories. But as I reflected over those eight months, I realized that what I've been put on earth, what I've been blessed to do, is not only coach the game of football, but use it as a platform to take young men and turn them into grown men and put them out there.
“You know, I always tell parents when we recruit their sons, your job's not done, but we are going to help you finish the process and the only reason we are recruiting your son is we believe in him as a young man, so we are going to make sure that he finishes his development and we are going to be the parents away from home. I think that's something that I'm blessed with, my wife, with the players, and really, the staff, we're going to put together. That's a key component.”
Not only has the world drastically changed since 2011, but he has as well, both as a person and a coach.
“There's no doubt a lot's changed. Social media alone is a whole world that didn't exist. So being able to adapt to that stuff; I think like I mentioned in Tara's question, when you're humbled a little bit, you really reflect on where could I have been better. I always think, when things don't go right, you need to look at your first, you know, in the mirror first; what could I have done better,” Schiano said.
During his time at Ohio State, Schiano worked under Urban Meyer, who went 83-9 with the Buckeyes with one National Championship. He also won two titles at Florida beforehand.
“Well, it was really unique because Urban is a good friend of mine, like a really good friend, very, very close, and you know, initially, there was no way I was going to go be an assistant. But he is one of the more persuasive people that I've ever met, and what I learned working there for three years, I thought that I was the hardest working coach in recruiting, right, and I learned that I wasn't,” Schiano said.
“And I learned some ways to be a better recruiter and if I said one thing, I would take that away from my time; is that there's certain things that you can do to really exponentially pop your recruiting, so I'm excited to do that. Because we did a pretty good job here of recruiting, but that's the life behind of your program. I learned a lot of stuff and I hope he learned some stuff from me. We're really good friends. But that would be the biggest thing.”
Years ago, Schiano was known as a micromanager. He had to be involved in every little detail. But now, it seems he’s going to be more hands off so to speak and let others do their jobs.
“There's a saying that I've really tried to stick to in the last five years or so, and that's keep the main thing the main thing,” Schiano said. “I think a lot of times you can get worried about every single thing, and yeah, sure, everything's important, but if everything's important, nothing's important. I think I've learned that I'm in charge of the main thing and I've got to keep focused on the main thing. There are going to be other people that can take care of other stuff, but when someone trusts their son with me, I've got four kids; anybody messes with my kids, that's going to be a bad day, right. But when they trust their kid with me, I've got a big, big responsibility and I've got to make sure I keep my focus on them.
“So players is probably -- not probably; players is the biggest focus, whereas the first time around, it was plays, it was schemes, it was techniques. I'll hire really, really good coaches and they are going to be excellent at that, and I'll help because I have 30 years of experience. But I have a responsibility to those parents. I got your son. I ultimately am in charge, so I got your son and I've got to make sure that I carry that out and that's probably the biggest -- not that I didn't do that, but I think my focus is even going to be more on that this second go-around.”
Rutgers and Schiano have a tough task ahead. The Scarlet Knights have gone 21-52 since joining the Big Ten and they play in the division with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Even Indiana has improved in recent years.
Is the challenge daunting, yes, but unlike in 2000 when he was tapped to rebuild the program after coming over from the University of Miami, the Wyckoff, N.J. native believes this program is in better shape and able to be revived once again.
“You know, we're sitting in this meeting room here, I can remember Bob Mulcahy, our athletic director when we came here, he said we're going to build an addition on to this building. I said, "Bob, we need to." And we did it, right. So we're sitting in a better facility than we were. You go to the practice field, it's certainly a lot better than we had with the light post falling down, right, that weight room,” Schiano said. “We are definitely well ahead.”
Schiano cited the added facilities on all campuses as a reason why it might not be as daunting even with the tougher league the Scarlet Knights play in now.
“Now I can't wait to get our recruits out on that campus, show them proud, say look at this, look at this, because there is no place nicer. It's beautiful,” Schiano said. “To answer your question, I think we're in a better position to make our move and I can't wait to do it.”
Over the years, even though he wasn’t working at Rutgers, he followed the team. He wished things were different back then and now in terms of him leaving and seeing the program fall.
“I'm a little disappointed because we said it would be built forever and now here we stand, right,” Schiano said. “Need to alter a few things, because there's going to come a day when I'm not the coach here anymore, and just as I -- I think I told Pat (Hobbs) and Greg (Brown) both this. The last eight years, I followed Rutgers, that was my team. Now I didn't let everybody know that, but whether I was coaching in the NFL, I checked the scores, I read the stories. I always wondered and wanted to know what's happening at Rutgers.
“I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I got disappointed when things didn't go well. We need to adjust a few things because we do need to build this program to last. The State of New Jersey deserves that. Rutgers University deserves that. We're going to have to adjust some things, but it will be built to last, I promise you that.”
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.