In a somewhat surprising move, former Rutgers head coach of Greg Schiano was given the head coaching job of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, left vacant by Raheem Morris.
The Bucs took a lot of time in making their decision, interviewing everyone from Marty Schottenheimer to Chip Kelly before finally agreeing to terms with Schiano. When you look at some of the guys they brought in for an interview, it was clear that the Bucs had a clear vision for what they wanted in their new head coach: someone with experience as a leader of men.
By the end of Raheem Morris’ tenure, Tampa Bay’s team was far to undisciplined to produce a winning product on the field. The team was exceptionally young at key positions, players were getting into off-field problems, and their coach, who turned 35 in September, could not demand enough respect from players that were often not much younger than he was.
Morris was hired after the 2008 season, which he started as the defensive backs coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in the same year, and was eventually given the head coaching job after Jon Gruden was fired after the season.
That same off-season, the Buccaneers began their purge of veteran leadership to start afresh, showing legends guys like Derrick Brooks the door. They hired a young Morris in hopes that he would grow with his young team and be there for the long haul.
However, it did not play out as smoothly as they hoped. Tampa learned, the hard way, that combining young players with an inexperienced coach is not a recipie for success.
Which is where Greg Schiano comes in.
Schiano took over a Rutgers program that was among the worst in college football. He had a slow start, but finally, the team started to go in the right direction in the 2005 season, finishing 7-5 and making a bowl game for the first time since 1978. In 2006, Rutgers was ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1976, and finished 10-2. Quite a remarkable turnaround for a program that has been dormant for so long.
A man with a defensive background, Schiano favors a “power football” mentality while still generating big plays from his offense. In the 2009 and 2010 drafts, Rutgers has had three players go in the first round: Devin McCourty, Anthony Davis, and Kenny Britt – a defender, offensive lineman, and a big-play wide receiver. He also produced great players like Ray Rice and Gary Brackett.
For a Bucs team that lacks mental toughness and disipline, the move seems like a natural fit. Jim Harbaugh’s success in his first season as coach of the 49ers and erasing some of the stigma that comes with college coaches making the transition to the NFL, there is more reason to believe that Greg Schiano can have immediate impact.
What does this mean for the Bucs this off-season? You can expect them to get another running back, as Schiano has always used a back-by-committee at Rutgers. Expect them to get bigger on defense and start to get more diverse and multiple on defense and emply more man-coverage schemes.
Still, this is a bit of a gamble by the Bucs, as going from college to the professional ranks is hardly a fluid task. But if there is to be a “second coming” of Jim Harbaugh, Schiano is the man for the job.