Interview with Rutgers Head Football Coach Greg Schiano - Part 3 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.
Mike Fasano: Why did you come to a place like Rutgers? A place that many people refer to as a coach's graveyard.
Greg Schiano: A lot of people ask me that question. When you asked me, what do I say to recruits different from what others might say, this is what. I did not need the Rutgers job. I turned down some job situations. I did not know if they were "my job". I walked away because I did not want them. But when this situation appeared itself, I want to investigate it. This is due to the fact that I grow up in New Jersey, the people l love is in New Jersey, and this state deserves a champion - we don't have one. Why should our kids grow up wanting to go to Penn State, Syracuse, Miami, or wherever? Do we consider ourselves as second class in this state? When we are one of the most technologically and financially advanced states? Everything about this state has tremendous levels, then why don't we have a football program? To me it does not make sense. I always thought that growing up. I was always interested in Rutgers. When I left Rutgers and went to Penn State, the NFL and Miami; I always kept my eye on Rutgers. Some of the people that I know in the coaching profession would say that Rutgers can be the place to be, it could be the best job in the country.
When I talk to recruits and other people, I tell them about my vision. Look at where we are located, we are in the best media market in the world - New York City. We have one of the Top 25 schools in the nation - academically. There are eight million people in our state and another eight million in New York City. There are 180,000 living alumni between the Philadelphia and New York area. You do not get that no matter where you go. The only other place where you might get that is UCLA or USC. But, you know what? They do not have that. USC does not have that type of living alumni in that area.
I say it a thousand times if I said it once. People in our world, do not see much past here. My job in this program is to articulate my vision to recruits, politicians, fundraisers, and any one that can help this program. That is my job.
I do not know if people realize a site like yours and various message boards. They do not realize who reads these things and who use the information that comes from these things. The fans, those that want this program to be a winner more than any one, made those (negative) comments do not realize how those who do not understand the whole (Rutgers) history take those comments on face value and use it against us.
That is why I tell people that I understand their frustration, but I just got here. If you still have those frustrations four years from now, then you can complain to me. But, right now, you need to give me some time.
It keeps coming back to the same thing. When we arrived here, the program was pretty close to being down and out. Talent-wise, the environment, and the culture around Rutgers Football was negative. We needed to change the complete culture. Now, we are well down the road in changing it.
Donald "Big Dog" Forbes: Can you elaborate on your definition of culture? Was it just the team?
Greg Schiano: To an extent, I am talking about the team. But I am really talking about the student body, the statewide population, and the fans. For example, your web site has had record growth since we started to turn this thing around. Our fans want to "know" and they are hungry fans. But I am trying to let people understand that they are all part of the solution. I know that there is someone who is sitting in front of the computer who does not think that they have any effect on being part of the solution or the problem. But they do.
I will give you an example. If I go with a recruit downtown and a fan says "Hey coach, are you going to be any better this year?". If you are the recruit, what are you thinking? I know that the fan did not have any malicious intend and they may have meant it lovingly. They might have meant, are you going to get it done this year coach? But they have to realize that they are being part of the problem. Because that kid who is standing with me has no idea what the fan really meant. So if you are the recruit who is 17-years old, you must be thinking "even the fans are against us". I know that it is not alone to Rutgers where these situations occur. But it is much more frequent here. When a kid hears something negative about us in a store, it effects us. Therefore, it is important that we are positive about Rutgers Football. Turn those conversations around and make them positive toward Rutgers football. I know that it is hard with some of the games that we get into, but there are enough positive things to say about the program. If you are a true fan, study up on some of the positives about the program. For example, we had eight academic All-Big East members. Give yourself weapons to use where the program is negatively attacked, then you are part of the solution.
It does not take a genius to know what is going on when I am with a high school aged kid. How you are part of the solution? Some words like, "Hey coach, we believe". You are now part of the solution. It is that simple, but no one really believes that they have an impact. They think that we (the coaching staff) will do it.
This is a great opportunity for me to get my message across of how everybody can be a part of the solution and it is not "hokey". I know that it will work because I know what it is like to win.
It is like the person, who wants to lose weight. One of the theories is that you try to teach the overweight person to think like a slim person. Then you will start to behave like a slim person. I know what it is like to win championships and what is like when you are winning big. I know what it is like to go downtown with a kid under that type of an atmosphere.
We need to act like winners in where we stay, how we dress, and how we look. We must act like winners. The more we can act like winners, it can happen. If we take care of all that stuff and you can bring in better players, we can be winners. You can bring in better players but if the structure is not there, those better players can be brought down a level. I think everybody in the state of New Jersey can have an impact.
Tomorrow, Coach Schiano discusses the players, the quarterback situation, and the impact of the incoming recruits. Stay tuned...
Donald "Big Dog" Forbes: BigDog@Rutgersfootball.com