Even after Rutgers University earned it’s first-ever bowl game victory, the media focus was still on Greg Schiano and his refusal of a coaching position at Miami:
HOUSTON, Dec. 29 ? Greg Schiano led the Rutgers football team to 11 victories this season, its first bowl championship, its highest national ranking, its longest flirtation with prominence.
But when Schiano appeared at a Texas Bowl luncheon this week, the M.C. introduced him as the guy who rejected Miami.
The crowd at the luncheon, composed mostly of local businessmen, broke into wide grins and happy applause. It was their way of cheering for the underdog.
Schiano may not feel comfortable with his new title, but he will have to get used to it. From now until August, on every recruiting trip and at every booster club, he will not simply be the coach who rebuilt Rutgers. He will be the coach who spurned Miami.
If Miami had never pursued Schiano, and if Schiano had never withdrawn from consideration, he would still be considered a hot commodity in the coaching business. But because Miami did reach out to Schiano, and because Schiano called a news conference to announce that he was not going anywhere, he has become a symbol of loyalty in his sport. Whether or not the role suits Schiano, it will surely help him.
When Schiano tells recruits that he will be at Rutgers as long as they are, the recruits will have reason to believe him. When Schiano tells boosters that Rutgers is worth their support, the boosters will know he is banking his own career on the cause.
And next fall, when Schiano tries to convince his players that they are among the best in the country, they will be able to trust that he is serious.
And, that, I think, will be the key to Rutgers’ success next year and in the future. Schiano seems sincere in his desire to create something big at Rutgers.
Already, Rutgers is in the hunt for some of the top recruits in the country, including Anthony Davis from my hometown of Piscataway, who is considering offers from both the Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Landing a top-line recruit like Davis would be a key victory for the Knights, who have long struggled to retain some of New Jersey’s top high school football players.