After 24 days of a coaching search that consisted primarily of retread NFL head coaches and unproven coordinators, Tampa Bay hopes it has found the person who will return the franchise to respectability as Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano was named the ninth head coach in Buccaneers’ franchise history. Schiano signed a five-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, but the financial terms remain unknown.
The Bucs had been discussing contract figures with Oregon's Chip Kelly, who ultimately turned down the job on Sunday night, and were reportedly willing to offer as much as $6 million per season. Schiano was making over $2 million per season at Rutgers.
Schiano has been targeted by NFL teams in the past, most recently by St. Louis where Bucs general manager Mark Dominik's close friend, Kevin Demoff, is the Rams chief operating officer. NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora said the Bucs' coaching search had come down to three finalists – Schiano, former Green Bay and Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
Schiano’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant with Rutgers and Penn State before becoming the Nittany Lions’ defensive backs coach in 1991. After five seasons in Happy Valley, Schiano joined the professional coaching ranks with the Chicago Bears, serving as a defensive assistant with the Bears for three seasons before joining the Miami Hurricanes as their defensive coordinator for two seasons beginning in 1999.
As the top defensive play-caller in Miami, the Hurricanes were 12th in the NCAA in scoring defense, then the following season finished fifth in the nation.
The improvement and defensive style of the Hurricanes caught the attention of the administration at Rutgers University, and in 2001, Schiano was named the Scarlet Knights head coach.
After a rough start at Rutgers, Schiano turned the lowly Scarlet Knights program around, and since 2006, he has a 49-28 record including a 5-1 bowl record. Schiano helped Rutgers to its first bowl win in school history, a 37-10 triumph over the Josh Freeman-led Kansas State Wildcats in the Texas Bowl in 2006. Rutgers finished 12th in the polls that year, which is the highest final ranking in school history.
Schiano won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award, the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award, the Home Depot Coach of the Year award, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award and the Big East Coach of the Year award in 2006 after leading the Scarlet Knights to a university-best 11-2 record.
Schiano's overall record at Rutgers is 68-67 and the Scarlet Knights have been in bowl games in six of the last seven years.
The endorsement of Schiano by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is thought to have a major impact on the decision to bring him to Tampa Bay.
MyCentralJersey.com reported on the relationship between Belichick and Schiano earlier this year. Belichick is obviously a fan of the Schiano.
“Coach Schiano, I have a good relationship with him and anytime he’s told me anything, it’s always been 100 percent accurate,” Belichick said. “A player that he’s familiar with, I would definitely want to take the opportunity to get his opinion and see what he thinks because of his experience and the amount of respect I have for him. He does a great job with that program and the kids that come out of there that play in the NFL, usually end up playing (for a long time) in the NFL.
“A lot of colleges get guys drafted or signed or whatever. I’d say that program, most of those kids when they’re on a team, they end up making a team. That’s a credit to what he puts them through for four or five years there in terms of preparation for the National Football League, assuming they have enough talent to be competitive. He does a good job of that.”
Belichick marveled at how productive the Rutgers players that have made it to the NFL have become.
“I’m just saying when you walk through the Rutgers facility, you look at the names — there aren’t too many guys who have come out of there that have gotten cut,” Belichick said. “Once they get to a team, they usually end up sticking on a team. I guess it kind of just, one of those things you sort of notice and then you take a closer look at it and it’s pretty much what it is.”
Schiano has helped several of his Scarlet Knights make a successful transition to the NFL, including running back Ray Rice (Baltimore), cornerback Devon McCourty (New England), wide receiver Kenny Britt (Tennessee), guard Jeremy Zuttah (Tampa Bay) and defensive end George Johnson (Tampa Bay) among others.
The hiring of Schiano came out of left field but shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise as the Glazers have always been very private and secretive in past head coaching hires, literally trading for Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders in the middle of the night. Many thought after Oregon's Kelly had a change of heart on Sunday that former Packers coach Mike Sherman would win the job by default, but the Glazers and general manager Mark Dominik, who reportedly have been in contact with Schiano over the past two weeks, had other ideas.
Schiano inherits a football team that went 4-12 last year and finished the season with 10 straight losses. The Bucs have a franchise-caliber quarterback in Josh Freeman, who played against Schiano and Rutgers in the 2006 Texas Bowl, but need to get Freeman to play closer to mistake-free football as he did in 2010 when he threw 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Last year, Freeman faltered in his third season and threw a career-high 22 interceptions and tossed just 16 touchdowns.
The defensive-minded Schiano will also preside over a defense that features several premium draft picks in defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price and defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, as well as Mason Foster, who led the team in tackles as a rookie middle linebacker. The Bucs defense finished last in the NFL in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense in 2011.
According to sources the Buccaneers are impressed with Schiano's ability to turn the Rutgers program around and also his defensive background. The Buccaneers were also impressed with not just his success on the field but also several factors off the field.
The Rutgers football program achieved the nation’s number one ranking in Academic Progress Rate in 2010 and the nation’s number two mark in 2011. The historic accomplishment continues a trend for the Rutgers football program of success both in the classroom and on the playing field.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Rutgers football team was ranked in the top three nationally in multi-year APR rates, becoming the only university in the entire nation to earn such a prestigious honor. The Scarlet Knights, who secured the nation’s top APR multi-year figure (992) in 2010, continued their model of success and achievement in the classroom with a multi-year APR figure of 988 in 2011.
Schiano was also instrumental in the expansion and renovation of the Hale Center facilities to include Interactive digital classrooms, computer lab, video room and 150-seat theater for use with game preparation and academics.
The Bucs are known to have interviewed 10 candidates for their head-coaching vacancy, including Schiano, Kelly, Sherman, Chudzinski, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, former Minnesota head coach Brad Childress, former NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who was recently hired by Miami to be the Dolphins head coach.– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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