New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he would "100 percent" vouch for the character of Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, whose verbal agreement to become Tennessee's next head coach went up in flames amid controversy Sunday night.
"100 percent. Yes. 100 percent. ... Zero reservations. Zero," Belichick said Monday when asked, per Zack Cox of NESN.
Schiano and Belichick have a close professional relationship dating back to at least the former's time at Rutgers. Belichick's son, Stephen, played under Schiano as a long snapper in 2011.
The Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers held joint practices together during Schiano's tenure there, and Belichick has complimented Schiano's coaching acumen on a number of occasions. He went on at length praising Schiano on Sunday following the Patriots' win over the Miami Dolphins.
"He's one of the very best coaches I think in our profession," Belichick told reporters. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg and the way he runs his program and the job that he does. I would say the most impressive thing for me is the way that our players, which we've had a lot of Rutgers players come through here, the loyalty and the, I would say love of the program, the college program that they were in at Rutgers when he was there, how they maintained that for years and years after they had left.
"... I think the relationship that he has with his kids, with his players and how well prepared his players are to come into this league is exceptional. I didn't know that, but it's good for him. He's a great coach. I'm sure he'll be a great head coach. Again, he's done an awful lot. He's helped me in a lot of different ways and I have a lot of respect for him."
Schiano, 51, was set to become Tennessee's next head coach Sunday before a wave of protests on social media and campus caused officials to back out. ESPN's Chris Low reported a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two parties earlier in the day, but Tennessee pulled its offer amid the protests—one of which included a rock on campus being spray painted to say "Schiano covered up child rape at Penn State."
Sworn testimony from the Jerry Sandusky grand jury showed that Schiano allegedly saw the former Penn State defensive coordinator and convicted child rapist engaged in some sexual act with a child in the 1990s. That allegation came from Mike McQueary, the former Nittany Lions assistant who became a star witness in the case against Sandusky.
McQueary said he was told the story by former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who has denied all knowledge of the events. Schiano has also denied he saw any wrongdoing at Penn State.