Greg Schiano might be the next Rutgers football coach. But before that happens, he’s showing the Athletic Department a picture of SHI Stadium holding a newspaper with got a list of demands he wants met.
Schiano would probably be good for the football program. The former head coach coming back to rebuild the team he once led to a bunch of bowl games. He’d likely get a hot start on the recruiting trail and have a respectable team in four years.
Like a lot of good coaches.
Previously under his watch, the Big Ten noticed Rutgers, ultimately allowing Tim Pernetti to close the deal to enter the conference shortly after Schiano bolted for the NFL. Under his watch, the program developed an identity where they chopped wood until they were out of the forest. And the identity of the team was a family.
However, while Schiano presided over the football program, other programs began to rot. According to a recent article by J.P. Pelzman in Forbes, Schiano had say over where athletic department funds were allocated. In fact, in a recent episode of Scarlet Spotlight, Jerry Carino referred to Schiano as a siphon. Basketball, particularly, suffered during Schiano’s tenure as it originally hired Fred Hill Jr, couldn’t fire and buy him out when it was clear he wasn’t going to succeed. A scandal happened, Hill was fired anyway and Rutgers couldn’t grab a big name and settled on Mike Rice.
And we all know what happened then.
If Greg Schiano returns to Rutgers, will the basketball program -- which is finally turning a corner -- get elbowed into a ditch again?— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) November 7, 2019
Why die-hard hoops fans should be very concerned about a reunion: https://t.co/GXOjsm8KIN via @AsburyParkPress
Which brings us to now, and this current edition of the athletic department. Many programs, from women’s basketball, women’s soccer, wrestling and lacrosse are experiencing a renaissance. Men’s basketball continues to build and looks toward its most successful season in more than a decade.
And while Schiano, if he’s hired, would be walking into a complete rebuild from a talent standpoint, he clearly realizes he’s not walking into the same situation he did back in late 2000. Basketball now has the practice facility it needs and for the first time, was given a budget to hire good assistants. Football was given a brand new outdoor practice facility and brand new locker room. It needs an indoor field house to continue to build, but funds should be able to be raised for that. It’s been on Pat Hobbs’ radar for a while. Yesterday, Steve Politi wrote a column and outlined some of Schiano’s ask for the world demands. If Rutgers agrees to these terms, funds should not be siphoned from other programs—lacrosse, wrestling, basketball, or whatever—to pay for that.
That’s the key, Schiano should have to tap his donors for upgrades that go beyond his allocated budget. He can’t just say, “Oh basketball and wrestling don’t need the money I need to fix this.” What if Steve Pikiell needs to find another assistant next off-season? Will he have the same amount—or, heck, more—money to spend than he used to? Or will it be cut? Greg Schiano can’t always get everything he wants at the expense of the rest of the department. You want to close off the upper deck of the stadium? That’s awesome. Raise the money—or in the contract, the deadline to do it should be reasonable and not at the detriment of rest of the athletic department.
Rutgers needs to keep feeding all its programs and giving them a chance to succeed. While Schiano needs to focus on football should he get the job, he would have to to realize it’s not football only anymore. He can not be the Nothing from the Never Ending Story destroying everything in his path in order to accomplish a bowl game. He needs to work within the system and department to get to that goal. There’s enough money to go around now, he doesn’t need all of it.
And that’s where Pat Hobbs comes in. Hobbs needs to be able to say no to Schiano if and when he oversteps his boundaries. After the scandal last week, it’s not completely clear how much power Hobbs has, and Schiano will come in riding the horse as the old hero back to save the day.
But football can succeed without destroying everything else. You all might disagree with me because you want to see bowls asap, but it is done at other power five Athletic Departments and it can be done here.
If Schiano comes back, he needs to be a team player. And hopefully that has been stressed to him during the meeting where he was offered the job. He might want to chop wood, but he has to allow another coach the equipment he needs to pound nails.
He needs to look at the Athletic Department and say, “Forget about me, I love you.” Otherwise, he might succeed, but he’d be opening up the rest of the department to get chopped.