We all know that things have not gone according to plan for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, and we all expect head coach Greg Schiano to be fired in the not-too-distant future, but no one should be surprised at any of it. The fact of the matter is that Schiano never should have been made an NFL head coach to begin with.
There’s no doubt that Schiano’s resurrection of the Rutgers football program to relevance is one of the greatest feats in the history of college football, but that doesn’t make Schiano qualified to become a head coach in the NFL. Schiano brought Rutgers to life by being a good recruiter, not by being a good tactician, game planner, or game day coach. His best attribute as a college coach is not something that translates to the NFL, which should have been a red flag to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before hiring him.
There was one recruit in particular that accelerated the growth of Rutgers and made Schiano look like a far better coach than he was, and that recruit was current Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Schiano had built Rutgers into a four-win team in 2004, but with Rice (who only went to Rutgers because Syracuse fired Paul Pasqualoni following the 2004 season) the Scarlet Knights went 26-12 from 2005 to 2007, with Rice rushing for nearly 5,000 yards and finding the end zone 50 times over his three years in college.
Schiano does deserve credit for his work at Rutgers during that time, as the program’s success was due to more than just the efforts of one player. But it’s hard to dispute that Rice elevated the Rutgers program as much as any single player could possibly elevate an entire college football program, and the surge of winning Rutgers experienced in those three years allowed Schiano to recruit at a high level to keep Rutgers as an eight or nine win caliber program even after Rice left for the NFL.
However, despite having top-40 caliber recruiting classes from 2007 to 2010 that were routinely among the best recruiting classes in the Big East during that time, Schiano never led Rutgers to a conference championship and only once in his tenure did the Scarlet Knights finish the season in the top 25, finishing Rice’s sophomore season in 2006 ranked 12th nationally.
After their Rice-fueled ascent, Rutgers’ record under Schiano never matched the amount of talent on their roster. In fact, as recently as 2010, they had reverted back to their old ways, winning only four games and finishing last in the Big East. Schiano was rarely able to out coach his counterpart on the opposite sideline, and rarely was he able to get the most out of the talent he had, which the Buccaneers should have been able to see before they hired him.
Most of the success Schiano had at Rutgers came as a result of good recruiting, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it didn’t make him qualified to become a head coach in the NFL. He’s more of a recruiter than a head coach, and he belongs in college where he should have stayed. The Buccaneers should have realized that before they hired him, but they didn’t, and now they’re paying the price.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.