Greg Schiano, who previously led Rutgers to new heights from 2001-11, is in his second season back as the head football coach “On the Banks.” The Wyckoff, New Jersey, native returned home to Piscataway on Dec. 3, 2019 and immediately made an impact on and off the field in 2020.
Schiano has directed the Scarlet Knights to six bowl appearances, coached 85 RU players who signed NFL contracts and guided the program to the top APR score in the nation so far during his time leading Rutgers football. The 2006 National Coach of the Year owns three nine-win campaigns and coached 17 Rutgers All-America selections, posting a 59-40 mark in his last eight seasons at the helm. His 71 overall wins are fourth in school history, behind Frank Burns (78), Harvey Harman (74) and John Bateman (73).
RETURN TO RUTGERS
“Rutgers University and this football program have meant the world to me and my family,” Schiano said upon returning. “I arrived here in 2000 with the goal to build a program that would be a source of pride for the state of New Jersey and develop great young men. I look forward to embracing that challenge once again. This is a great opportunity for all of Rutgers to pull together to get us back to where we all know we belong. It will take everyone on this campus and in the State of Rutgers to get this done.”
The 2020 season presented unforeseen challenges dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Playing a Big Ten-only schedule, the Scarlet Knights were one of just two teams in the conference to play all nine of its scheduled games. RU, despite missing spring and summer camp, matched the program high with three Big Ten victories, all away to equal the number of league road wins the previous six seasons combined.
With a commitment to player and culture development, the Scarlet Knights had 14 players recognized in the All-Big Ten voting, the most for the program since joining the conference. That included four on the top-three teams, with wide receiver Aron Cruickshank, the Big Ten Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year and honorable mention All-America pick by Phil Steele, and linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi both earning first-team honors.
Rutgers posted a program-best 26.7 points per game in a Big Ten season, with eight games of at least 20 points after reaching the mark only five times in the prior four years. The 13.4 more points per game than 2019 marked the fourth-best improvement nationally following the regular season, while the scoring differential in Big Ten play was the best for the team by a margin of 8.6. The defense had at least one takeaway in 8-of-9 games with 19 overall, the most since 2012, and led the league with 7.8 tackles-for-loss per game.
Off the field, the Scarlet Knights launched #Chop4Change to spread a message of unity and equality amidst the national social justice discussion, while registering every student-athlete on the team to vote in the 2020 election. The initiative also involved giving back to the community through various forms.
The program also achieved academic success with 46 student-athletes recognized on the Fall Academic All-Big Ten list, the most for the Scarlet Knights since joining the conference. The team posted its highest GPA ever as a program during the spring 2020 semester.
After making one prior trip to a bowl game in Rutgers football history, Schiano led the team to six bowls in the final seven seasons of his first stint, including the program’s first bowl victory. The Scarlet Knights won the last five, which was the longest active streak in the nation following the 2011 season. In addition, RU was ranked in 20 weeks during Schiano’s first tenure after appearing in the AP Poll only nine times prior.
Schiano first took over on Dec. 1, 2000. “This program will be built on a rock foundation,” he said. “It will take longer than building it on stilts, but when it’s built, it will be built forever. This is where I started; this is where I was striving to get back to. I’m thrilled to be here. It’s time.”
Building up the Scarlet Knights with three rejuvenating recruiting classes to start, Schiano put together an upset win over Syracuse to close 2003 before knocking off Michigan State to start 2004 in front of the largest crowd in Rutgers Stadium history at the time (42,612). The team broke through in 2005 with a 7-5 record, the first winning season since 1992, and a trip to the Insight Bowl for RU’s first bowl appearance since 1978.
Moving to the memorable 2006 campaign, Rutgers went 11-2, earned the program’s first national top-10 ranking (peaking at No. 7) and won a bowl championship with a convincing 37-10 victory over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl. “Pandemonium in Piscataway” was achieved with a 28-25 upset of No. 3 Louisville in front a raucous home crowd and national television audience. It was the first triumph for the program over a top-25 opponent since 1988. Schiano collected the Eddie Robinson, Walter Camp, Home Depot and Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year, as well as the Big East Coach of the Year following the season. The final national ranking of No. 12 still stands as the high-water mark in program history.
The momentum continued in 2007 with eight more wins, which included a 30-27 victory over No. 2 USF. The season was capped by running past Ball State, 52-30, in the International Bowl and set school records for scoring (426), first downs (294) and total offense (5,841). The 2008 campaign started 1-5, but the Scarlet Knights reeled off a six-game winning streak to become bowl eligible again and went on to beat NC State, 29-23, in the PapaJohns.com Bowl to finish with seven-straight in the win column. Then in 2009, RU beat a top-25 opponent for the fourth consecutive year and took down UCF, 45-24, in the St. Petersburg Bowl to finish off a 9-4 season.
In 2011, Rutgers had its third nine-win season under Schiano, tying Burns for the most in program history. The Scarlet Knights defeated Iowa State, 27-13, in the Pinstripe Bowl for the fifth-straight bowl win.
Schiano coached the leading rusher, passer and receiver by yards in Rutgers football history, sending all to the NFL. Ray Rice finished with 4,926 rushing yards, 1,812 more than second place, with 49 touchdowns. He holds the top two spots on the RU single-game rushing leaderboard with a high of 280 in the 2008 International Bowl. Mike Teel was a three-year starting quarterback and is the only signal caller in school history to lead the Scarlet Knights to three bowl victories. Throwing for 9,398 yards overall, he still owns single-game school records for passing yards (447) and touchdowns (7) in Rutgers’ 63-14 victory over Louisville in 2008. Britt was a primary target for Teel, recording 3,403 receiving yards. He once had five consecutive games with over 100 yards and totaled 14 such outings, both school standards.
Schiano also turned special teams in a game-changing force for the Scarlet Knights. RU has blocked 60 kicks during to rank among the nation’s leaders, while scoring 54 defensive/special teams touchdowns, including three in 2020. Kicker Jeremy Ito shattered the school record with 80 career field goals and earned All-America status.
While producing victories at a rate unprecedented in the program’s history, the Rutgers football team is also committed fully to succeeding in the classroom. In 2010, Rutgers ranked first in the nation in Academic Progress Rate. The team followed that up with the nation’s No. 2 ranking in 2011. The program was the lone state university to be ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in APR during each of Schiano’s last five seasons of his first term.
Nate Jones became the program’s first two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection (2002-03) and was a member of the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame National Scholar Class of 2003, one of just eight FBS players honored. In addition, Brandon Renkert earned CoSIDA Academic All-America status in 2007, while Brian Leonard received the prestigious Draddy Trophy, recognized as the “Academic Heisman,” in 2006.
The emphasis on academics continued in 2020 with a program-high 46 Academic All-Big Ten selections and the highest recorded GPA in team history during the spring 2020 semester.
KNIGHTS IN THE NFL
Known as a tireless recruiter with the ability to spot talent and develop players, Schiano has mentored 85 Scarlet Knights who went on to sign NFL contracts. That includes first-round picks in Kenny Britt (2009), Anthony Davis (2010) and Devin McCourty (2010). Rutgers had never had a player taken in the first round before Britt went 30th overall to the Tennessee Titans. Davis’ selection at No. 11 by the San Francisco 49ers marked the highest draftee in school history. McCourty, who went 27th to the New England Patriots, has won three rings in five trips to the Super Bowl.
Eleven Scarlet Knights who played for Schiano at Rutgers entered the 2021 season active on NFL rosters (Michael Burton, Andrew DePaola, Michael Dwumfour, Duron Harmon, Clark Harris, Tyler Kroft, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Logan Ryan, Mohamed Sanu and Brendon White).
Schiano accepted the head coach position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Jan. 2012 and spent two seasons at the helm of the NFL franchise.
Schiano returned to the sidelines as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator, also coaching safeties, at Ohio State in 2016. He coached 10 players who were NFL Draft picks, five of whom were first-round selections during his three seasons. There were three first-round picks from the secondary in the 2017 NFL Draft: Malik Hooker (Indianapolis), Gareon Conley (Oakland) and Marshon Lattimore (New Orleans). Hooker, a unanimous All-America pick in 2016, was first nationally with three “pick-sixes” and third nationally with seven interceptions that season.
The Buckeyes went 36-5 in Schiano’s three years as defensive coordinator and 24-3 against Big Ten opponents. That led to two Big Ten titles plus wins in the 2017 Cotton Bowl and 2019 Rose Bowl. In addition, OSU was No. 6 nationally in total defense under Schiano in 2016 when advancing to the College Football Playoff semifinals.
The Buckeyes were one of just three programs to rank in the top 10 in total defense in both 2016 and 2017. Schiano was the No. 2 recruiter in the nation by 247Sports and CBSSports.com for the 2018 signing class.
Schiano served as the defensive coordinator at Miami in 1999 and 2000 before becoming the Rutgers head coach. The Hurricanes posted a 20-5 record during that time, including 11-1, the No. 2 national ranking and a Sugar Bowl win in 2000. That defense finished fifth nationally in scoring defense (15.5) after ranking 12th in the category the year before (17.2). Following the 2000 season, linebacker Dan Morgan, who was the 11th overall pick in the NFL Draft, became the first player in college football history to win the Butkus Award (top linebacker), Nagurski Award (college defensive player of the year) and Bednarik Award (top defensive player) in the same year, in addition to being a consensus first-team All-America selection and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Strong safety Ed Reed was also a consensus first-team All-America honoree in 2000 and would later earn a spot in the both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Prior to his assignment in Miami, Schiano spent three seasons in the NFL with the Chicago Bears (1996-98). The 1997 team placed first in the NFC in third-down defense (31.7 percent), while the 1996 squad climbed from 27th in the NFL to 11th in fewest yards allowed.
Schiano was the defensive backfield coach at Penn State from 1991-95 after working as a graduate assistant in 1990. The Nittany Lions picked up 58 wins throughout those years and made six bowl appearances. The 1994 PSU team went 12-0 (8-0 Big Ten) and finished No. 2 in the national rankings after beating Oregon in the Rose Bowl. He previously was a graduate assistant at Rutgers in 1989, beginning his coaching career as an assistant as his alma mater, Ramapo High School, the year before.
Schiano was a three-year letterwinner at linebacker for Bucknell (1985-87). He was named to the Sporting News All-America Preseason Team in 1987. He served as a team captain his senior year after leading the team with 114 tackles as a junior to earn All-Patriot League honors.
Full Name: Gregory Edward Schiano
Birthdate: June 1, 1966
Hometown: Wyckoff, N.J.
Alma Mater: Bucknell, 1988 (B.S. in business administration)
Children: Joey, John, Matt, Katie
2020-present: Rutgers (head coach)
2016-18: Ohio State (associate head coach/defensive coordinator/safeties)
2012-13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (head coach)
2001-11: Rutgers (head coach)
1999-00: Miami (defensive coordinator)
1998: Chicago Bears (secondary)
1996-97: Chicago Bears (defensive assistant)
1991-95: Penn State (secondary)
1990: Penn State (graduate assistant)
1989: Rutgers (graduate assistant)
1988: Ramapo HS (assistant)
2019 Rose Bowl
2017 Cotton Bowl
2016 Fiesta Bowl
2011 New Era Pinstripe Bowl
2009 St. Petersburg Bowl
2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl
2008 International Bowl
2006 Texas Bowl
2005 Insight Bowl
2000 Gator Bowl
1996 Outback Bowl
1995 Rose Bowl
1994 Citrus Bowl
1993 Blockbuster Bowl
1992 Fiesta Bowl
1990 Blockbuster Bowl
2018 Ohio State (Big Ten)
2017 Ohio State (Big Ten)
2000 Miami (Big East)
1994 Penn State (Big Ten)
BIOGRAPHY INFORMATION COURTESY RUTGERS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS