11 years ago, Rutgers was looking to become something they simply are not. They wanted to be like those epic, elite state university programmes.
In order to do so, they would need to try and bamboozle someone into taking over their fledgling football programme. What they found was a guy from "Joisey" who had no head coaching experience, but plenty of experience as a Defensive Coordinator.
They found a guy with a chiseled exterior and an ability to convince anyone he spoke to that he was speaking nothing but the truth. They found a guy who could preach a sermon, tell everyone to "go to hell" and have them waiting in the narthex for him to give them tickets.
His name was Greg Schiano and he was deemed the "saviour" that Rutgers had been looking for. He was especially adept at constantly and unabashedly telling anyone who would listen that he was going to make Rutgers a national contender.
Schiano lied...over and over, and over again.
Greg Schiano turned the tide on Rutgers, you see. He became the bamboozler instead of the bamboozled. He embraced his role as "saviour" and therein lies the worst aspect. He was oh so convincing...
Schiano was so very convincing that he was able to talk Rutgers into making him the 20th best paid coach in the country.
Schiano convinced Rutgers to take a piece of property away from the environmentalists so he could build a home there. A home that Rutgers bankrolled for Schiano, interest free. A home with a mortgage which Rutgers forgave $100,000 on each year.
Schiano convinced Rutgers to move heaven and earth for a new $100 million-plus stadium in the same terrible location as the existing one, and then, when students and fans did not come as ticket buyers, he convinced the school to give tickets away. They still did not fill the stadium.
Schiano convinced Rutgers to hire a Media Consultant, whom he was close childhood friends with, to be the next Athletic Director. This was seen as an indication of just how Rutgers had fallen for Schiano, hook, line, and sinker. You see, it was the former Athletic Director who had been criticized for giving Schiano an open, and unrestricted checkbook. They were correct in the firing, but they did not go far enough, instead allowing Schiano to choose the new Athletic Director.
Schiano all along preached that Rutgers was going to win a National Championship, but never even won the Big East Conference Championship.
Schiano, instead, offered that he had taken the programme to five bowl games. Unfortunately, they were bowl games no one had ever heard of, and the last one was purposely created to feature the "also-rans" of the Big East and Big 12.
Schiano repeatedly promised each and every year that the very next year's recruiting class was going to be the "best ever" and a departure from the "building year" they had just endured—for the 11th time.
Greg Schiano missed his calling. He should have been a politician, but instead, he found he did not have to look further than his very own backyard to exact his "Pied Piper" act.
In 11 years, Schiano leaves one game over .500. He leaves behind a programme which is $26M from even thinking of being self-sufficient. He leaves behind an alumni, state, and student body who bought into every word he said...and proved conclusively that sometimes, actions do not speak louder than words if the words are empty promises.
In this past year, the "Pied Piper" act which Greg Schiano instigated was roundly criticized by Bloomberg for being the programme which spent the most and got the least in return. More recently, the same criticism was the topic of a major investigative report by The Star-Ledger, the accepted state newspaper of New Jersey.
I have written about it many times which you can find on my Profile page.
When I heard the news that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had hired Schiano as their head coach, I was caught off guard but not surprised. The "Pied Piper" had led the Rutgers faithful as far as he could, so he had to leave. He had to leave because he had run out of convincing, but empty, promises.
I just hope that Rutgers has realized what they allowed to happen to their team, but with Schiano leaving behind his protege in the Athletic Director's office, I have to doubt it.
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