By Greg Stevenson
Former Orange and Blue linebacker and head football coach at Rutgers University Greg Schiano ’88 was hired last Thursday to fill the head coaching vacancy for the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Schiano is the first University graduate to attain this honor in the NFL.
During his three-year playing career at the University, Schiano was a standout at the linebacker position. In addition to leading the Bison in tackles during his junior campaign, he was named all-conference that season. The following year, Schiano was named team captain and was elected to The Sporting News pre-season All-American squad.
Perhaps Schiano’s biggest accomplishment in coaching upon graduation from the University was his transformation of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program from the perennial doormat in the Big East, to a team that competed for conference championships on a yearly basis.
After four seasons from 2001 to 2004 in which the Scarlet Knights won a combined twelve games and just three in conference, Schiano finally broke through in 2005 with a seven-win campaign and a berth in the school’s first bowl game in more than two decades.
The following season put Rutgers football back on the map, when the Schiano-led Scarlet Knights started the season with nine consecutive victories, springing them to their highest-ever ranking (No. 6 in the BCS standings) in school history. In arguably their biggest win in school history, Schiano led Rutgers to a victory over then-third-ranked Louisville at home to give them a 9-0 record.
Schiano earned five different coach of the year honors for his team’s success that season, including the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award.
After reaching just one bowl game in its over 100-year history before his arrival, Rutgers made six postseason contests, winning five of them, in Schiano’s 11 seasons. Overall, the Scarlet Knights finished 68-67 during that timeframe.
Before his stop at Rutgers, Schiano coached defense for the University of Miami Hurricanes football team at the height of their dynasty in the late 1990s. In addition to leading the 12th- and fifth-ranked defenses in 1999 and 2000, respectively, Schiano was defensive coordinator for current NFL stars Ed Reed and Jonathan Vilma.
Between his playing days as a Bison and coaching at Miami, Schiano also served different coaching positions at both Penn State and for the Chicago Bears.
Schiano will take over a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ squad that finished 4-12 in 2011, last place in the NFC South. The Buccaneers’ former head coach, Raheem Morris, was fired the day after the 2011 season ended after just three seasons with the team.