Hand on Bible, in a piece a few weeks ago regarding the Jets’ implosion, my original draft included the following sentence: “What the Jets should do is say goodbye to [Rex] Ryan and hire Rutgers coach Greg Schiano as their new head coach.”
So why did I remove it? Well, Schiano and I went to the same high school a few years apart — Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, N.J. — and, although I’m not sure if we ever met, our siblings and their friends all know each other. I had to ask myself, was I suggesting Schiano for the Jets job because I thought he was the best person for the job, or was I doing it because of the slim connection? Ultimately, I decided to keep the comment to myself and save it for next year, if and when the Jets under-perform and embarrass themselves once again. And I was confident the comment could stay refrigerated until next year because of Schiano’s commitment to Rutgers and to all things New Jersey. In short, he wasn’t going anywhere.
Now I wish I had made the comment, and I wish the Jets had sent some feelers out to Schiano, who surprisingly has just signed on to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next year.
Why? Because the Jets just lost out on a chance to align themselves with an excellent young coach who could lead them for the next decade, and do so with the respect and dignity the organization has been lacking since Rex Ryan rode into town.
Let me preface what I am about to write by saying that I have no inside information about this, but I have no doubt at all that if Schiano were interested in coaching pro ball, the Jets and the Giants would be his two first choices. And if given the choice between coaching the Jets and the Bucs, with everything else being equal, I have no doubt he’d pick the Jets. Why? Because I and every other guy who grew up in Northern New Jersey would make that very choice 100 times out of 100. The Jets and Giants gigs would be the dream jobs. Oh, and you wouldn’t have to relocate your family, either.
Schiano did a remarkable job with the program at Rutgers, aided by Tim Pernetti (another Ramapo grad) and Mike Miello (former Ramapo coach). (Pernetti I knew through my brother — he had a lovely family — and Miello gave me my only detention at Ramapo for being a wise guy.) Schiano quickly earned the trust and respect of his players, developed into an excellent recruiter, and removed Rutgers from the “easy win” category on opponents’ schedules. He became a “local boy makes good” story. And he could have become a “local boy makes great story” had he ended up with the Jets.
The Bucs don’t have the same talent that the Jets do, so it will be interesting to see what Schiano can do with them. The team seemed to have quit on Raheem Morris. Who knows if they will respond to Schiano. If he doesn’t turn them into a playoff team — and here’s betting he does — that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have succeeded with the Jets. No, this Jets team would have been perfect for Schiano.
A year from now, when the Jets may be looking for a coach to replace Ryan, they are going to look for someone with a lot of Schiano’s qualities. They just won’t be able to get Schiano.
More from Washington Post Sports:
The League: Rex Ryan, New York Jets are in disarray
Early Lead: Bucs tap Greg Schiano as next head coach