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Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano hired as Patriots new defensive coordinator

A man who has stood on both sides of the field for Rutgers’ most celebrated wins and a number of its most calamitous losses will be taking his expertise in defensive football to an organization that has known nothing but unprecedented success since the turn of the century. 

The Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots will be adding former Scarlet Knights football head coach Greg Schiano as the team’s newest defensive coordinator, according to The Boston Globe.

Schiano served as head coach for Rutgers from 2001-2011, leading the program to five Bowl wins and a 68-67 record over 10 seasons. Schiano’s most notable season at the helm came in 2006 when the Knights reached their highest national rank and recorded the program’s first Bowl win. 

The relationship between the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Schiano dates back to his tenure at Rutgers, and Belichick’s penchant for drafting players to come out of the program. In Schiano’s 10-year tenure, 11 Knights players were either drafted, signed or traded for by Belichick. 

These players include three defensive backs still on the Patriots roster that were part of the organization’s most recent Super Bowl team. Schiano will be reuniting with safety Devin McCourty and cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Duron Harmon. 

Schiano will also be joining a coaching staff that includes one of his former players, and what is perhaps the golden connection for this hiring. Belichick’s son Stephen Belichick will serve as Schiano’s safeties coach. Steve Belichick is a Rutgers alumnus who played four years of lacrosse at the University and walked onto the football team in 2011 to play long-snapper for Schiano’s last season.

The Patriots defense will now feature three former Knights, secondary coaching by a Rutgers alumnus and leadership by the most successful Knights head coach since Frank Burns. 

“We're very proud of the fact that no school had more players represented in Super Bowl LIII than Rutgers ... It says something that the most successful franchise in NFL history relies on so much Rutgers talent. Those guys are all proud of their time at Rutgers, so of course that reflects positively on Rutgers and Schiano,” said Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs. 

Since Schiano left Rutgers following the end of 2011 season, the Knights have had only two winning seasons and have gone a combined 34-53. Meanwhile, Schiano already endured a failed stint in the NFL. In two full seasons as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Schiano went 11-21 before being fired. 

Schiano most recently served as defensive coordinator for Rutgers’ conference foe Ohio State under the now-retired Urban Meyer. In Schiano’s three years with the Buckeyes, he has coordinated one of the most effective defenses in college football. Schiano’s Buckeyes defense held the Knights to 3 combined points in the three meetings since his hiring. 

Alongside his experience, Schiano will be bringing some controversy with him to New England. A 2016 Philadelphia court document revealed testimony from former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary that Schiano had knowledge of the sexual abuse scandal concerning former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and did not act. 

These allegations have already played a role in affecting Schiano’s coaching opportunities, as he was set to take a head coaching job at the University of Tennessee back in 2017 before a social media campaign by students and fans expressing disapproval for the hiring forced the university to rescind the job offer. 

Ironically enough, Bill Belichick publicly came to the defense of Schiano during the backlash in Tennessee. 

“(I) had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him when he was at Rutgers ... He's one of the very best coaches in our profession. I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Schiano) and the way he runs the program and the job he does," Belichick said according to ESPN.

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