More from Rutgers Football HC Greg Schiano on the B1G's return to play
On a day where the Big Ten announced it will start its season on the weekend of Oct. 24, Head Coach Greg Schiano spoke to the media regarding the league’s decision and how he is approaching his second stint in Piscataway.
Although it ended up being a long and arduous journey in order to get the confirmation they would be playing football in the fall, Schiano expressed a positive outlook that his players are feeling as well.
“The whole time I’ve been honest with the players and have been transparent about what’s happening and why we’re doing what we’re doing. And although I don't think it clears the frustration, I think it makes them feel like they're part of the solution, they’re involved, they know the why behind what we’re doing,” Schiano continued. “I know they’re all very excited when I was able to finally tell them for sure that we’re going to have a season. That's what football players do and that’s what football coaches do. I think I speak for everybody in the building. There's a different kind of energy in the halls right now which is exciting.”
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Schiano spoke about the uncertainty going into a COVID-impacted regular season as well.
“I think the uncertainty is without a doubt unsettling for everybody, players, coaches, administrators because even though it was postponed, and early on, there were thoughts of it might be in the spring, but you always felt like there was a possibility and never really knew what could happen,” Schiano said. “And we tried to do our best to physically and mentally prepare, but it’s hard. We don't know what it is exactly that you're preparing for, it’s a challenge, right? We’re going to get ready to play a game here. They're in school, they have tutors, they have everything that college athletes go through, and we didn’t have training camp, but that’s the way it is. So figure out a plan to get your team most ready that you can. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to try to have them as ready as we can for that first game."
In addition, Schiano would touch upon when he expects to release a roster along with the blanket eligibility waiver and whether or not he envisions players opting back in now that more time has passed and there is a season on the horizon.
“The blanket eligibility waiver, I think, has to have an impact on how you use personnel. What's happened since I left being a coach is that you can play in four games. Now, that was never the case before that. You had to have an injury to do that. Now, you can just play in four games. Well, now to make it every game, right, you can now play in every game and have it not count (this season). I think it definitely will have an effect. I can’t tell you yet because I don't know where the team is at yet, but it certainly will have an effect,” Schiano explained. "The opt-out situation, I’m not going to get into names now because like you said I’m going to give them a chance to opt-in, and quite frankly, I think people were opting out and weren't really sure what the situation is. After some conversations here in the next week or so we’re going to come out with a roster, we’re going to come out with who's on our team. It just didn't feel like it was appropriate with everything going on. We were going to do it obviously before spring football, and that that was our plan, but then all this stuff broke and we put a pause on that. So as soon as I have a chance to talk to the fellows that have opted out, because there are more than just the one that announced, I will let you guys know who’s in, who’s out, all that stuff.”
Coach also spoke about his long journey from when he took the job to where the Big Ten stands today as well.
“I kind of don't try to reflect too much in the moment and when you take a job it’ll whirlwind. The virus hit New Jersey in earnest and then from that point on, it’s mayhem. So there really hasn't been time and there won't be time until after season this year where you can sit back and reflect if at all,” he said. I look forward to doing that, but now isn’t that time. It has been exciting, let’s say that. There’s a lot of a lot of adjusting, a lot of pivoting that's been necessary, which least you could say doesn't get boring this way.”
While Schiano is upset that fans are not going to be a part of his first season back, his focus is on having the team ready to play every week no matter the circumstances.
“I really can't tell you what it’s going to be like, I’ve never done that. But I imagine it's going to be a lot like when you scrimmage against yourself in your stadium except the stakes are going to be much higher,” he expressed. “But I think everybody's been waiting to play football for so long, and we’ve had the advantage of watching some other teams do it and what it’s going to be like. I don’t know if family will be allowed in the stands, maybe that, who knows what’s going to happen. I've kind of taken the mindset that none of that really is important to me right now. We have five weeks to get our team ready and all my focus is on that. I think as we get closer to the game, I’m going to talk to our team a lot about and I’ve already thought about what I’m going to say is, this is a true test to see just how much you love the game of football because you're playing, although millions of people are watching on TV, you don’t know that when you're playing the game. It's who is in that build that day and you’re going to be tired all the same, you're going to be hurt and all the same like you do on every football game, but are you going to be able to play for your teammates on your right, on your left, and your coaches over on the sideline, because that’s who is going to be in there with you. I love it. Not that I love not having fans, don't get me wrong, I love the fact that the guys are playing for each other and I think that’ll be something that is going to be interesting to watch unfold.”
However, even though fans will not be in the stands each Saturday, Schiano will explore different ways to keep the Scarlet involved.
“Our fans, I am going to really ask them and try to include them and everything we do this season. It’s not the way that I thought it would be obviously, but there’s things that we’re going to do that I’ve already asked our marketing people and the people who work on this stuff to include our fans, whether it’s TV shows or call-ins or whatever we got to do to make them feel as much a part of it as as we can. And hopefully there can be some interactive stuff that happens on game-day with our fans being involved. And, I don’t know that’s not my territory, but I've asked people who it is their territory to make that happen. So as we get closer, I think they'll make some announcements who or what we’re going to do,” he said. “Overall, guys, I’m excited. I know our program, our players, our coaches, everybody has a renewed energy and we’re going to go to work.”