Former Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano has been biding his time to rejoin the coaching ranks since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013.
Following the University of Illinois’ decision to fire head coach Tim Beckman Friday, Schiano’s name has popped up as a trendy pick for Beckman’s replacement in Champaign, Ill. Considering the success he had at Rutgers, a school that had little football success when he took over, it makes sense that Schiano would be tied to another fixer-upper.
Schiano did a fantastic job turning Rutgers into a winner and it’s possible he’s realized that, despite the allure of another shot at the NFL, he’s best-suited as the CEO of a college football program. His disciplinarian mindset, while effective with college kids, was reportedly a sticking point with the grown men he coached in Tampa Bay. At Rutgers, he was also a good recruiter, bringing in underrated talent and coaching them up into stars. During his tenure, he hauled in players including Ray Rice, Devin and Jason McCourty, Kenny Britt, Mohamed Sanu and Anthony Davis, who have all continued to excel in the NFL.
That said, it seems unlikely that Schiano would rejoin the collegiate ranks now — at least not at Illinois. Before the University of Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh, Schiano was tied to the Wolverines job and he also reportedly met with University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez about the Badgers’ opening last December.
While Schiano is a long shot to land any of the country’s best college coaching positions following his failed tenure with the Buccaneers, I believe it would take a more high-profile offer than Illinois for him to assume the reigns of another college program. While the Illini play in the Big Ten, I’m not sure the 49-year-old wants the kind of renovation job he’d be taking on there. That’s the kind of task you hand to a younger man — like Western Michigan’s 34-year-old rising star P.J. Fleck, who is the nation’s youngest head coach.
Schiano is reportedly itching to get back into coaching, but his next job seems more likely to be as a coordinator of an NFL squad than as a head coach of a college team. While I don’t think he’s too proud to return to college after leaving for the professional ranks, if he can prove his worth again in the NFL as a defensive coordinator, he could get another shot in the league as a head coach.