Welcome Back to Piscataway
I guess like many of you I am back after a four-day holiday weekend which I am very thankful for. That’s because my daughter, son and daughter-in-law were with us for most of it. And let me not forget our almost 6-month old grandson Carter.
Seeing his smiling face each morning was a true blessing and made for a very special weekend and I guess the same can be said for those who follow Rutgers football because their Messiah is back.
Hours after reports surfaced that the university and Greg Schiano had finally reached agreement on a contract that would bring him back as head coach Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs confirmed the news. The 14-member Board of Governors will meet Tuesday morning to vote on the contract but that is a mere formality and the 53-year old Schiano is indeed returning the banks of the old Raritan for a second stint.
I realize my thoughts on this won’t carry much weight because as a Penn State fan it’s no different than when a Mets fan comments on the Yankees. However I do believe I can be a somewhat neutral observer because unlike rabid Rutgers fans I don’t have any skin in the game.
The positives are obvious. When the Wyckoff native was named Rutgers head coach prior to the 2001 season he was taking over one of the worst programs in the country and while it took a few seasons by 2005 the Scarlet Knights were headed to a bowl game, something they would do in 6 of his final 7 seasons.
Schiano then left Rutgers for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it was downhill for both although he had 3 pretty good years as defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
The bottom line is that Schiano knows what it will take to at least be competitive in the Big Ten and it would appear with the help of some high-profile New Jersey political leaders he’s going to get that. He will clearly have more success recruiting than others and will also have a fan base that will have patience based on his track record.
Without trying to ruin this moment for the many win-starved fans of our state university I would caution them that unlike Schiano’s first tenure he’s not trying to turn around a program in the Big East but rather the Big Ten where they annually will face Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State.
However it’s the holiday season so bask in this early Christmas gift. Hopefully for the RU faithful it’s the start of a new era and for both coach and program this might be a last shot at success.