Schiano bucks up. Can the state follow?

Greg Schiano has now turned down two premier head coaching positions in back-to-back years. Last year, Schiano spurned the Miami Hurricanes, a team he enjoyed great success as a Defensive Coordinator. And today, he rejected overtures from the University of Michigan, one of the top five football programs in the country.

Evidently, the Michigan decision was a hard one. Reports allege that the Coach left his team meeting this morning somewhat distraught, after tentatively accepting the Michigan job, then deciding to stay the coarse and continue to grow the program he has created. What makes these two choices impressive is that Schiano had a very good chance to win National Championships at both schools. It is a testament to what the upper echelon of college football think of Schiano. It is also evident that Schiano believes in the unthinkable- that he could win a National Championship at Rutgers. But that requires support both fiscally, and athletically, as well as a continued change in the state’s culture. If those three things happen, Schiano becomes the Joe Paterno of New Jersey.

For the Miami Hurricanes, what made him such an attractive option was his ability to recruit South Florida, his organizational skills, and his attacking defensive style which strongly suit’s the strengths on many players in that area. He has an excellent gift for being able to the manage the egos of star players. And the coaches down there get a sense for that. South Florida is home to some of the best talent in the country, and Schiano would have cleaned house as a recruiter. One South Florida High School coach once told me “Greg could recruit a National Championship team on a full tank of gas down here”.

At Michigan, Schiano fit the bill as a character coach and great developer of young men. He would have also infused fire in to a program which would have been a stark contrast to the ways of Coach Lloyd Carr.

Pundits are now having a hard time pointing a finger as to why Greg would choose to stay in Piscataway over Ann Arbor. Some have found it incredulous that Greg would prefer to be in NJ over Michigan, and have speculated that Greg is waiting for the Penn State job to open up once his mentor Joe Paterno retires or that he is waiting for the right NFL position becomes available. Both ideas seem to lack any credibility and are knee jerk responses to the lack of belief that Rutgers could become a perennial power.

On the other hand, it seems that Schiano had to strongly consider the Michigan offer because of a perceived lack of support for state funding. While there is a supposed lack of money in the state coiffeurs, NJ is one of the most affluent states in the nation. It appears that the fear of losing Schiano led NJ Governor Corzine, who spent 62 millions of his own dollars in his gubernatorial race, to lead a fund raising campaign for expansion of Rutgers Stadium. It is a step in the right direction by the state and Corzine, but not nearly the support needed to make Rutgers a consistent top 15 program.

It is certain that at this stage of the program, it is still easier to recruit championship level talent to both Miami and Michigan, which has to be a frustration to Schiano. But if the members of the state can succumb the pride to keep approximately 70% of the top talent in the state, as well as getting some support Florida and nearby NY, PA, and other Northeastern states, Rutgers would become a monster program. The words of coaches such as Greg Olsen Sr (if Greg was the coach at Miami, both my kids would have been there) must stop. This state and community deserve better.

Schiano’s decision to stay home and direct his mission of creating a championship program for the people of New Jersey took a big step forward today. Now it is up to the people of the State of Rutgers to decide if they want a championship, by supporting the university in it’s need for expansion as well as keeping it’s top talent home. Greg Schiano decided to buck up. The question becomes will the state follow his lead?

Scarlet Report Top Stories