When Greg Schiano took over at Rutgers, people thought he was crazy. Rightfully so. And even though he may not admit it to the public, there was undoubtably a time or two after he signed the contract that he second-guessed his decision. Sure, it was a head coaching job, and that’s really what most coordinators and assistants seek to acquire at some point. Most of them would probably agree that Rutgers was not exactly a hot vacancy. Then again, who knows, maybe with a job like Rutgers, the expectations are lower than an El Camino in El Paso.
Schiano is a master motivator and a terrific recruiter. What he has done at Rutgers will be remembered as one of the biggest sports turnarounds in recorded history. The bar set by Bill Snyder is the measuring stick to date, but Schiano is steadily approaching that mark. On top of all that, this is a guy you can truly respect. In an age where the AD’s have the walls closing in on them at all times, everyone wanting to hire the bad-character coaches just because they win games, Greg Schiano has been remarkable. His dedication to the Rutgers program will recruit players by itself. This is a guy who turned down the Miami Hurricanes opening to stay in East Brunswick. My respect for how this man handles himself and how he manages his players is insane.
What has this guy really done, you ask? In 2005, Rutgers went to their second bowl game in school history (1978). They went bowling in 2006 and 2007 as well. In 2006, Rutgers was in the national rankings for the first time in thirty years, and were a triple-overtime loss to WVU away from a BCS game. The 2006 Texas Bowl win over K-State was the first bowl game Rutgers won in their entire 137 year history.
K-State. How fitting; the program Bill Snyder built versus Schiano at Rutgers.
And I’m not the only fan in Happy Valley who has taken notes. Joe Paterno’s contract expires in seven short months. There are quiet rumors gaining slow momentum as I type this. Expect an enormous, enormous attempt to be made by Penn State.
FYI: Greg Schiano was a graduate assistant at Penn State and later a defensive-backs coach.
What has Greg Schiano done for Penn State since he left? Well, not a whole lot. What he did do was turn a Penn State recruiting hotbed into a Rutgers recruiting hotbed. Schiano is keeping the New Jersey players in state. Sure, last year he lost Will Hill to Florida, and to date for the ’09 class, three 4-star rated prospects from New Jersey have left for Notre Dame. You can’t expect a Big East team with no tradition to win recruiting battles, now, with Florida and Notre Dame. But Schiano, surprisingly enough, might be starting to level the recruiting playing-field with his old mentor, Joe Paterno.
On April 18th of this year, 4-star QB prospect Tom Savage (Springfield, PA) chose Rutgers over Penn State, when many had him as a PSU lean. Papa Joe has a chance this weekend to even the 2009 recruiting series if Penn State steals 4-star LB Glenn Carson from the Garden State. Many think he has Penn State as his current favorite.
Penn State’s not the only PA team feeling the Schiano sting. In addition to Savage, Dave Wannstedt has, to date, already lost two other PA kids to Rutgers: 3-star MLB Jordan Hill of Harrisburg, and Neshaminy High’s 3-star TE prospect Paul Carrezola. Pitt’s Rutgers woes extend out of state, however, as 4-star NJ RB Aaron Hayward picked the Knights over the Panthers.
Penn State and Pittsburgh are not in that boat alone. Schiano’s recruiting reach is getting better. 4-star RB prospect Desmond Scott of Durham, NC chose Rutgers over a cornucopia of bigger programs: Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia, and NC State. In addition to Scott, Rutgers attained 3-star WR Mark Harrison from Connecticut.
There is something even more surprising about this Rutgers recruiting class than star rankings, though. For all the press Schiano gets, deservingly, this Rutgers class is different from a lot of recruiting classes assembled at other schools. With local Penn State as one example, eight of the twelve current Lion commitments were recruited by Larry Johnson. This Rutgers class is far different. Of the twelve Rutgers commitments so far, six different coaches recruited those kids. You don’t get stats like that at every school. What does that tell us? It’s hard to pinpoint. But the fact of the matter is that this whole staff is a quality staff, not just one or two guys. In my opinion, I think it shows that Rutgers has a brighter future post Schiano than what others might believe.
That is, if Schiano bolts, which history shows us is unlikely. Sure would look good in blue and white, though. Again.