Sure, it was only a game against Rutgers (1-4, 0-2 Big Ten), but the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) looked much more like the Big Ten title favorite they were at the start of the season than at any point this season. J.T. Barrett passed for three touchdowns, Mike Weber rushed for three touchdowns, and the Ohio State defense never gave Rutgers much time to breathe in a 56-0 road win in New Jersey.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano returned to the Rutgers campus for the first time since being fired from the job as head coach of the Scarlet Knights, and he came in with a dominating defensive effort and game plan. Ohio State held Rutgers to 13 first downs and just 209 yards of offense in the shutout. It is the second straight shutout Ohio State has pitched against Rutgers in as many seasons (Ohio State won 58-0 last year).
The shutout for Ohio State was preserved in the final minute when a late field goal attempt simply to get any points on the scoreboard went bouncing off the upright.
Since losing at home to Big 12 frontrunner Oklahoma in Week 2, Ohio State has outscored their last three opponents by a score of 141-28. The bigger challenges still are coming later this season for Ohio State, but this stretch was needed after taking a loss at home and being knocked down a few pegs in the pecking order in the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture. With plenty of time to rebound, Ohio State needed to get the offense on track during this stretch before having to deal with games against Penn State (Oct. 28), a road trip to Iowa (Nov. 4), and the regular season finale in Ann Arbor against Michigan (Nov. 25). Ohio State still looks every bit the Big Ten contender they were supposed to be, and right now they are taking care of business the way they needed after the early loss to the Sooners.
Ohio State will be back home next week for a game against a surprising Maryland team. The Terrapins have been hurt by injuries but managed to win on the road against Minnesota on Saturday. This should be a much more difficult road test for Maryland. Ohio State won last year’s game, 62-3.
Rutgers will get a week off to regroup and give it another shot to pick up a win in Big Ten play. Rutgers returns to the field on Oct. 14 with a road trip to Illinois.
Ohio State lost defensive coordinator Chris Ash to a head coaching offer at Rutgers, so the Buckeyes are bringing back a former Rutgers head coach to fill the hole at defensive coordinator. Greg Schiano is expected to accept an offer from Ohio State to take on the role of defensive coordinator, as reported by Adam Schefter.
In fact, Schiano is already getting work done for the Buckeyes.
Assuming this comes together as it seems it will be, this is a solid hire and addition for Ohio State and Urban Meyer. Schiano made his bones as a defensive assistant and coordinator at Rutgers, Penn State, Miami before moving up to be head coach of Rutgers in 2001, where he transformed Rutgers into a more respected program through laying a foundation on defense and letting the run game take of business on offense. At Ohio State, with plenty of talent to work with on the defensive side of the football on a regular basis, Schiano should ease back into the college game in short order and get some instant results in Columbus. Adding a coach with great familiarity with the recruiting battlegrounds in the northeast, New Jersey and Pennsylvania is also a nice bonus for the Buckeyes.
When we last saw Schiano, it was as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After coaching Rutgers to a 68-67 record over 12-year tenure (keep in mind Rutgers went 12-34 in his four years before he got the program winning regularly), Schiano left for the NFL in 2012 and was fired from his position as head coach the following year following a 4-12 season.
Schiano has hoped and waited for a head coaching offer to come his way since being ousted in Tampa. While he may still one day choose to be a head coach again, serving as a defensive coordinator for a program like Ohio State is an easy way to keep your name fresh in the next coaching carousel cycle.
While you just never know what will turn up when the coaching rumor mill starts turning, you should always expect some old names to pop up as possible candidates for jobs. Two coaching candidates reportedly gaining steam for possible jobs in this cycle are Will Muschamp and Greg Schiano.
Muschamp, after one season serving as Auburn’s defensive coordinator after being removed as head coach at Florida, is perhaps the more puzzling of the two. Muschamp has been reported to be a top contender for the opening at South Carolina, with Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports and Mark Schlabach of ESPN each reporting word of Muschamp’s rising candidacy for the job left open by the retired Steve Spurrier. If South Carolina is truly close to considering Muschamp for the job, you should probably be asking questions about the information they are gathering that you cannot see for yourself. Muschamp had one good season at Florida before things turned south in a hurry, and his impact on Auburn’s defense was not nearly as successful this season as hyped. So what, exactly, is the selling point on Muschamp to South Carolina?
What about Schiano? That is a bit of a different tale.
Feldman once again dropped the word that Schiano was a rising candidate for the opening at Miami. This is a move that actually makes some sense. Schiano was a former defensive coordinator of the Hurricanes in 1999 and 2000, which led to him being named the head coach of Rutgers in 2011. He lasted 12 seasons in New Jersey and proved capable of building a reputable program at a traditional doormat of a program. You might even argue Schiano is the reason Rutgers is in the Big Ten today, although he had moved on to the NFL, and failed, by the time that transition was completed. Schiano has not coached since 2013, when he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At Rutgers, Schiano was 68-67, a record that was bogged down by a 3-20 record in his first two seasons on the job. Rutgers had winning seasons in six of Schiano’s final seven years in New Jersey.
Both South Carolina and Miami should continue to explore all of their options, because it feels like neither would be making the best possible hire if the Gamecocks hire Muschamp and Miami resurrects Schiano’s coaching career.
The New England Patriots advanced to the AFC Championship Game on Saturday with a victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The game-clinching play, essentially, came with an interception by Patriots defensive back Duron Harmon, which made any Rutgers fan watching the AFC playoffs have a moment to smile. The former Scarlet Knight was immediately congratulated by another former Rutgers player, Logan Ryan, as the Patriots prepared to run the clock down in the final moments of the game for the win.
After the game, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about his “Rutgers kids,” Harmon and Ryan. Belichick’s response turned into what NJ.com sportswriter Steve Politi called “a Rutgers infomercial” that praised former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano as well.
“They’ve played well for us, they really have,” Belichick said. “Of course they were in a great program there with Coach [Greg] Schiano and they were well coached at Rutgers. They’ve worked really hard here. Nobody’s worked hard than Duron and Logan have in the last two years they’ve been here.”
Belichick made sure to include a third Rutgers player in his commentary of the New Jersey program, stating Devin McCourty is another hard worker and a great leader.
“I’m proud of all those guys and I’m sure Coach Schiano and the Rutgers program is too,” Belichick said. “They stepped up today [and] made some big plays for us.”
It was a proud day for Rutgers football, complete with a seal of approval from a Super Bowl winning coach. The program should take these quotes from Belichick and start printing them everywhere possible.
The worst kept secret in this year’s coaching carousel is now out of the bag. Wisconsin has hired Paul Chryst, who had been the head coach at Pittsburgh. Wisconsin was expected to name Chryst the new head coach as soon as the vacancy opened up, but state law in Wisconsin prevented the school from extending any formal offers until Wednesday.
Chryst replaces Gary Andersen, who left Wisconsin for a lateral move to Oregon State after two years in Madison and one trip to the Big Ten championship game. Chryst may not have the accolades of a great coaching hire, he was .500 in his time at Pittsburgh, but there is much more to like about this coaching move at Wisconsin than the numbers would suggest.
Chryst is a Madison native, he played at Wisconsin for athletics director Barry Alvarez and he left Pittsburgh after a well-respected run as offensive coordinator under Bret Bielema. Now that he has a few years of head coaching experience under his belt, he arrives in Madison a more experienced option than he would have been immediately after Bielema left to coach Arkansas. His Wisconsin roots should play well with the fans and the Wisconsin program as well.
As for Pittsburgh, the search is now officially ongoing for its next head coach. Pittsburgh previously was reported to have reached out to former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Whether Pittsburgh has any options out there that could come home in similar fashion as Chryst to Wisconsin remains to be seen, although it certainly would be nice to see Pittsburgh find its own stability at the position one of these years.