Just when you thought the 2011-2012 coaching carousel had closed for business until later this year, it’s officially spinning once again.
Following up on speculation that had gained momentum throughout the morning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially announced that Greg Schiano has left Rutgers to take the head coaching position with the NFL club. Proving you can have some class with such an abrupt departure — looking squarely at you, Todd Graham — Schiano met with both his coaching staff and his now-former players prior to the official announcement.
“We are thrilled to introduce Coach Schiano as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” said club Co-Chairman Joel Glazer in a statement. “During our thorough search, we met with numerous impressive candidates, but Coach Schiano surely distinguished himself. From his leadership skills to his impressive track record, he is, simply put, the right man for the job.”
During the initial Schiano-to-Bucs reports this morning, New England patriots head coach Bill Belichick was mentioned as one of the individuals who gave a very high recommendation of Schiano to the Bucs. In Tampa’s release announcing the hiring, Belichick lavished praise on the man who, up until today, was his son’s head coach.
“Greg obviously has done a great job at Rutgers,” said Belichick. “I think he is a tremendous coach that’s done a great job with that program. And his players have been very NFL-ready. Guys that come out of that program, when they get to the NFL, most of them make it. It may not be first-round picks or whatever but if they have enough talent to really compete in the NFL most of them end up staying in one way or another and I think that’s a credit to the preparation and the program that he’s built there.”
Schiano had been at Rutgers for the past 11 seasons, turning a once-moribund program into one that could compete in a BcS conference on a yearly basis. Prior to Schiano’s arrival in 2001, the Scarlet Knights had one winning season since 1987 and had gone to just one bowl game in the program’s history; under Schiano, RU has finished above .500 six of the past seven seasons and qualified for six bowls during that span.
As for where Rutgers will turn for a replacement, the current scuttle seems to be pointing to one coach currently on the staff and another outside of the program: RU offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and FIU head coach Mario Cristobal. CFT has also been told that Kyle Flood, Schiano’s assistant head coach the past four years who’s been at RU for the past seven seasons, is in the mix as well if the school decides to hire from within.
Regardless of where the university turns on a permanent basis, they need to do so in a hurry in order to protect what was shaping up to be the best recruiting class during Schiano’s tenure. The fallout, however and unfortunately, has already commenced in earnest as the Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that one of the top offensive linemen in the country in the Class of 2012, Ryan Brodie, has already reopened his recruiting, backing off a verbal commitment he made to the school Wednesday.
Brodie’s high school coach said “blindsided” would be a good description of Schiano’s departure. “He had no idea” Schiano was considering a move to the NFL, the coach told the paper. Brodie likely won’t be the only RU verbal waffling six days away from signing day, either.
“It will absolutely destroy recruiting this close to signing day,” recruiting expert Tom Lemming told the Star-Ledger. “For him to leave a couple of days before signing day you will see the vultures circle quickly and Rutgers could end up with a recruiting class like Penn State’s.”
RU athletic director Tim Pernetti and two unnamed players will meet with the media at 4:30 p.m. ET this afternoon to discuss Schiano’s departure. Pernetti is also expected to address the short- and long-term steps the athletic department expects to take to fill the vacancy so close to the all-important signing day.