I'm not going to be hypocritical here. Just four short days ago I told you the Buccaneers dodged a bullet when Oregon flip flopper Chip Kelly turned them down. I relayed the failures of college coaches past. It's not pretty, folks. So, far be it from me to blow sunshine up backsides in regards to the hiring of Greg Schiano, formerly of Rutgers University, as head coach of your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There's a lot to cast a skeptical eye on here. For all his faults, at least Mike Sherman had been a coach in the NFL. Marty Schottenheimer was winning NFL games and competing for division championships when Greg Schiano was a twenty-something grad assistant. Mike Zimmer has been a coordinator in the league since Christ was a kid.
None of that mattered to the Glazers and General Manager Mark Dominik. They weren't looking for a man with a shiny resume or eons of experience. They were looking for the right fit.
They weren't looking for a specific offense or defense - they were looking for a builder - someone who could lay the foundation for a perennial playoff team like Tony Dungy did so many years ago. They were looking for a man who would be a stern disciplinarian and be able to focus this young football team on the fundamentals that are needed to win football games. They were looking for someone who wouldn't placate off the field shenanigans.They wanted a man who commanded respect and gave it freely to those who earned it.
They found all of these qualities in Greg Schiano.
"We are thrilled to introduce Coach Schiano as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," said club Co-Chairman Joel Glazer. "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."
Say what you will about Schiano's record at Rutgers (68-67) and indeed, to be hovering around .500 and never winning a mediocre Big East Conference title is nothing to write home about. Yet, consider where this man was coaching. Rutgers has been playing football for 131 years before Schiano took over and had been to one - just one - bowl game in their history (and lost). You're talking about a school that had just four winning seasons in the past 30 years.
It took him a few years to get the program going but once he did, Schiano had winning seasons in six of his last seven years with the Scarlett Knights. He took Rutgers to six bowl games, winning five. Did I mention he was doing this at Rutgers, people? He might as well been coaching the Bad News Bears to the World Series.
Schiano has been a hot commodity on the coaching circuit for a while now, turning down opportunities with Michigan, Miami and possibly Florida (whether the Gators were interested in him is a subject for debate). He was considered the heir apparent to Joe Paterno at Penn State, but even turned down the Nittany Lions.
He was looking for the right fit, so were the Buccaneers and when Chip Kelly pulled a Mitt, the stars aligned.
The strange thing about all of this is he is the anti-Kelly. He's a defensive minded coach. He doesn't run some gimmicky spread offense that won't succeed in the NFL. His defenses are stout, especially on third down and in the red zone.
According to some reports, he prefers a West Coast offense but with a more vertical passing game. His defenses (at least at Rutgers) are a 4-3 cover two shell but he's a master at adapting to the personnel he has.
Anyone who professes to know whether Greg Schiano will be a success in the league is just blowing smoke. There's no way to know for sure. History certainly suggests it won't end well for Tampa Bay.
Still, there's something about Schiano that just seems to fall into place. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and there's definitely a set of weird circumstances that have brought these two forces together. The Glazers have put the kind of commitment to Schiano (5 year contract) that they never did with Raheem Morris.
We all know and understand that Schiano won't succeed unless the Glazers support him monetarily (i.e., spending some money on free agents that aren't undrafted rookies and/or kickers). You have to imagine they promised they would - just as they promised us.
Money talks, Joel and Bryan.
In any event, Schiano at least brings discipline, structure and experience as a head coach (at least at the collegiate level). He's already demonstrated he can build something from nothing.
He may not be Bill Cowher, Chip Kelly, Jeff Fisher or even Brian Billick but he deserves a chance to earn your respect.