Schiano should cash in while he can
Greg Schiano has coached Rutgers football since Dec. 1, 2000. He took on a program that was driven into the ground by Terry Shea. One of the laughingstocks of the country, the University did not seem like it would ever reach its potential — despite the fact that it lay in one of the most fertile recruiting zones in the country and has even produced number one recruits Chris Simms and Greg Olsen. Even with a huge state university in their backyard, they committed to Texas and Notre Dame (before transferring to Miami). While Schiano has not been able to keep all the top recruits in state such as Will Hill (Florida), Brian Cushing (Southern California) and Brian Toal (Boston College), keeping players like Anthony Davis and Kenny Britt was a great accomplishment. But Schiano has to know that he cannot build a figurative fence around New Jersey, and he is being pushed out of Florida by Urban Meyer and Randy Shannon.
This brings me to my point: Greg Schiano has reached his Rutgers apex. To be more specific, he reached it in 2006. Achieving a top 15 ranking and having the best season in Rutgers football history won him the National Coach of the Year and made him one of the rising stars in college coaching. He declined overtures from Miami following the ousting of Larry Coker because he was "very happy at Rutgers." And why shouldn't he have been? They were within a triple OT game of going to the Bowl Championship Series. It was only up from there.
Except it wasn't. Slip-ups in the next two season lead to back-to-back 7-5 regular seasons even if they did win their bowl games both years. And now one has to wonder, with a freshman quarterback behind center and a defense that was shredded by Cincy's returning star QB Tony Pike, how long before this team slips up for more than just a few games and stumbles to something like a 3-9 season? That is a very real possibility in the near future if this team even looks related to the one that showed up on Labor Day that it could happen.
And that is when the bloom will officially be off the Greg Schiano rose. He'll forever be treated as a god here, bringing a program from death's door to a contender in the Big East conference. But is that good enough for Greg Schiano or — more specifically — his ego? Human nature will not allow him to be content with going 7-5, 8-4, 6-6 most years with the occasional 10-win season. Maybe a conference title will be good enough for him. But the odds are slim and one has to wonder just how long Schiano will be able to take it. The team just does not seem to be improving.
If he ever goes 3-9 or something similar and does not bring the team back to immediate contention for conference titles, the idea that Schiano is one of the best coaches in all the nation will be nothing but a myth. A myth. If he ever wants to leave and become the head coach of a national powerhouse, this may be his last shot. Head coaching a team that is consistently inconsistent is not the way to cement one's reputation as a great coach.
If Schiano stays here, he'll be remembered fondly at the University, but forgotten to everyone but this relatively small fan base. Is that the legacy anyone wants to leave — to be forgotten? Especially since he could have taken the job at Michigan that eventually went to former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. There are not going to be many prestigious programs like that opening up any time soon. Notre Dame will go after Urban Meyer, not Schiano. But Schiano's old haunt, Miami, is on the rise thanks to excellent recruiting by Randy Shannon, which leaves only one place for Schiano: Penn State.
Current Penn State head coach Joe Paterno cannot keep coaching forever and will eventually need a successor. Penn State Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley is the reported heir to Paterno's throne, but Schiano needs to take that job if he's offered it. He needs to take any huge job offer that is thrown his way. He would have more of a brand to sell, as well as a more areas to recruit that were off limits to the University. Schiano, able to build a powerhouse program, could be remembered as one of the great coaches in college history for his versatility in building up one program and maintaining one he did not create.
While I am a Rutgers football fan, I am also a Greg Schiano fan; I hope he does what is best for him, not just for the football program he created. So Schiano — take the first big job that's offered to you because I don't know if you can win national titles at the University.
Matthew Torino is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science.
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