Interview with Rutgers Head Football Coach Greg Schiano - Part 2 of 6
On June 5th, Mike Fasano and I had the pleasure of interviewing the Head Coach of Rutgers football Greg Schiano. The interview lasted approximately two hours. We had the chance to obtain his comments on his philosphy, recruiting success, how he will continue to improve the program, future of the program, improvements to the facilities, coaching additions, and how he will build a championship program at Rutgers. The interview was informative and enlightening. We hope that you enjoy the interview and obtain some insight into the program.
Donald "Big Dog" Forbes: You have had some unprecedented success in recruiting here, where others have not. What exactly are you selling to the recruits?
Greg Schiano: First and foremost, it is the people that are doing it. It is important that they trust and believe what they are telling them as well as believing me. We have limited the geographic area where we recruit, we are not all over the place. We are in what we call the "State of Rutgers". That is New Jersey and the surrounding areas (close by), South Florida, and where ever else there is a natural hook or in. Other than natural in, we are not going to chase kids on less they contact us. There are great players throughout this country. We feel that our best chance, as an upstart program, is to develop relationships in the "State of Rutgers" and educate people. We have done things with advertising to get ourselves and our exposure level up in the areas where we recruit. Some of the trouble for a kid or an adult is acceptance. There are a lot of kids who would like to stay home in the state of New Jersey and have their career here. But they need to validate, in their mind, to stay home. They have to believe in the plan and the vision that my staff and I have developed. Therefore, when we present our plan to them it must be crystal clear so they can say that this is going to happen. I think what helps me and validates me as a head coach is that I have been a part of a program that has been almost down and out , Miami. Remember, they said that the scholarship reduction and all those things would stop Miami from ever succeeding again. People forgot that this was said. Butch (Davis) and the staff, which I considered myself a part from, went out and recruited the best football players and people that we could find. We just kept doing it relentlessly and that is the same thing that we are doing here. What is going to make this a championship program is the recruitment of great players, coaching them hard, loving them, and making sure that they go to school. We will do this year after year after year. Pretty soon, we will look up and we will be pretty darn good. That is the way to do it. There is no secret. People say "the gurus…", there are no gurus. Just get the great players and do the things that I said and you will have a championship program. It is very easy to say but hard to do.
Mike Fasano: I have heard that no one helps out the coaches in this state like you and your staff. Is this part of your strategy?
Greg Schiano: No question. It is more than just a helping out of the coaches. When I took the job, I told everyone in the state that this needs to be a partnership. Some people thought I was just "first day speeching it". It is my belief that this state is starving for a winner. You look at the Nets. The Net people are getting so excited about having a winner and they are in North Jersey. We are in the perfect location to tie together a state that is divided, the North-South division. We are in a perfect location and we are the only real thing that the state can call its own. In the past, Rutgers has had some issues in South Jersey and South Jersey Football. We are mending those fences daily and as we speak. We are bringing those guys in the fold. We are doing as much as we can. But it is not only the coaches, it is the community members, the politicians, it is anybody in the state of New Jersey that can help us become a championship program. The high school coaches are clearly in the best position because they influence their kids. It is a partnership. I said to them, when Rutgers wins championships it will help New Jersey High School Football and there is no question about that.
Mike Fasano: A former player asked me to ask this question. Due to the emphasis in recruiting Florida, aren't we losing some credibility in New Jersey?
Greg Schiano: I do not think so at all. I think the issue is that we can not take a New Jersey player that is not good enough to win championships in the league that we play in just because he is from New Jersey. The day is going to come where we do not need to get as many players from Florida because we are getting 7 out of the top 10 players in New Jersey. This did not happen this year. Also, your Top 10, the Star-Ledgers Top 10, and my Top 10 can be very different. Recruiting is in the eye of the beholder. Some people say that you did not get this kid or that kid. I would not say that we would not have taken them but they may not be my "gotta have them". So as we get more and more kids that will stay home that would be great. However, South Florida will always be a huge part of our recruiting strategy. We are going down there for "football players". Football is an emphasized activity down there. They have 20 spring practices every spring. That is 60 more practices than a kid in New Jersey has. That is a whole year of football. That is a whole season more of football that the kid in Florida has played than the kid in New Jersey. This kind of emphasis being placed on football enables these kids to come a little bit more prepared. We do less spring practice in college than they do in high school down there. This is a mental toughness and grind thing because these kids are still playing baseball and running track. Therefore, there will always be a spot for South Florida recruiting for Rutgers. How that proportion changes will change from year to year. I think that it is a great mix. When we are winning championships and New Jersey has a bumper crop, we should be able to get who we need out of New Jersey. For those years that there is no bumper crop, we can lean on South Florida.
Donald "Big Dog" Forbes: How do you compare your first recruiting class to y