Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Why Greg Schiano Hiring Is so Surprising

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIJanuary 30, 2012

Newly hired Tampa Bay Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano talks of a Super Bowl in first press conference.
Newly hired Tampa Bay Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano talks of a Super Bowl in first press conference.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

What can one say about the recent hiring of Greg Schiano as the new Tampa Bay football coach? Quite surprising, maybe leaning towards shocking, especially to Rutgers fans who spent the last 11 years watching his Scarlet Knights.

Without any real inside information, whether or not Schiano's good friend and Patriots coach Bill Belichik got involved, it's quite surprising because most of the success Schiano enjoyed at Rutgers had to do with so many fundamentals inherent to college football—policies and techniques that don't translate to the NFL.

Things like recruiting, graduating players and especially controlling the schedule were some of the things that Schiano mastered to take Rutgers from the doldrums of the college football world to a renewed respectability Rutgers hadn't experienced since the Frank Burns coached teams of the late 1970s.

Sure, there are plenty of things the born-and-raised New Jerseyan did so well at Rutgers he'll get to do at Tampa Bay, but will they be enough to make his transition to the professional ranks a smooth one, one that will lead to a noticeable improvement for the Bucs?

Schiano had a keen ability to prepare his Rutgers players for the pros, and currently there are 25 former Rutgers players in the NFL. This will carry over as he'll make better players out of the Bucs.

He's a tremendous defensive mind, which will certainly carry over.  And he's known as a hard worker—this too will carry over to the NFL.

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But the former Rutgers coach was one of the nation's best recruiters with a knack for graduating his players.  And he controlled his schedules so his team would become bowl eligible six of his 11 years in New Brunswick. These talents won't mean anything for an NFL team.

Schiano took over at Rutgers in 2001, it's been 11 years since and Rutgers is still waiting for its first Big East Championship
Schiano took over at Rutgers in 2001, it's been 11 years since and Rutgers is still waiting for its first Big East ChampionshipJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The NFL doesn't recruit, it gets its players through the draft and free agency.  It doesn't require a player to obtain a degree, and schedules are dictated by the league office.

What about Schiano's record at Rutgers?

Schiano finished with a 68-67 record at Rutgers. In his 11 years, his Big East record was 28-48 (37 percent).  Even since 2006, when Rutgers seemed to turn the corner with its "miracle team" that finished 11-2 and ranked No. 12, his Big East record was an unimpressive 16-19.

He was known for playing some of the softest schedules in college football.

During his 11 years at Rutgers, not once did any of his teams have a strength of schedule in the top 50.  Even with seven Big East games each season, his average SOS was 69.

Of his 40 non-conference wins, 30 came against teams from non-BCS conferences. 

Schiano's Rutgers teams feasted on MAC teams (7-1), Army and Navy (13-2) and FCS teams (8-2).  None of these non-conference wins came against a team ranked in the top 25.

Against non-conference teams from BCS conferences Schiano went 10-12.  Five of these wins came in bowl games in which Rutgers was favored. Once more, none of these wins were against teams ranked in the top 25.

About the six bowl games

In 1978 Rutgers went to the Garden State Bowl where it lost to Arizona State 34-18. It was its first bowl appearance in its 122 years of football.  It wasn't until 2005 that it went to its second bowl game.

Schiano's 2005 Rutgers team (7-5) lost again to Arizona State, 45-40.

One year later the Scarlet Knights won their first bowl game ever, and since they've appeared in four more bowl games, they've won them all.

In watching this year's Pinstripe Bowl, a game in which Rutgers defeated Iowa State, you would have been reminded that Rutgers now owns the nation's longest consecutive bowl winning streak of five games.

This may sound important but, truth be told, these five wins all came in insignificant bowls, all games Rutgers was favored to win. 

In 2006 Rutgers faced Kansas Sate (6-6) in the Texas Bowl.  In 2007 Rutgers faced Ball State (6-6) in the International Bowl, and in 2008 Rutgers faced North Carolina State (6-6) in the Papa Johns Bowl.

In 2009 it faced Central Florida (8-4) in the St. Petersburg Bowl, and in 2011 Rutgers faced Iowa State (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Starting on wrong foot in Tampa Bay

Just as Schiano promised in his first press conference as the Rutgers coach, 11 years ago when he vowed Rutgers would win a national championship, in his first press conference as the new Tampa Bay coach, he spoke about a Super Bowl for the Buccaneers.

But reality suggests that if he backs up his promise to Buccaneers fans as well as he backed up his promises to Rutgers, they'll still be looking for his first division championship 11 years from now.  Schiano never won a Big East championship for Rutgers.

He also talked about "a priority to hire assistants that are great coaches, great teachers and great people."

But hiring great assistants at Rutgers has to be questioned because in 2007, with Kenny Britt, Ray Rice, Kevin Brock, Ryan De'Imperio, Eric Foster, Courtney Greene, the McCourty brothers, Tiquan Underwood, Jamaal Westerman, Jeremy Zuttah, and Anthony Davis—11 players who either appeared or starred a 2011 NFL roster—why then could he only produce a 3-4 Big East record and only gain a spot in the meaningless International Bowl?

This is a very surprising hire.  Greg Schiano didn't exactly win a lot of big games as the Rutgers coach and he only has three years of NFL coaching experience.

Obviously he's accomplished  something that Tampa Bay owner Malcolm Glazer admires and respects.  We'll find out over the next couple of years if Glazer made the right move.