Meet new Patriots defensive coordinator Greg Schiano
The Patriots will name Greg Schiano their new defensive coordinator, replacing Brian Flores, who was officially named head coach of the Miami Dolphins after Super Bowl LIII.
Schiano, 52, has been in the coaching profession for 30 years. After playing linebacker at Bucknell, where he was a three-year letterman before graduating in 1988, he served as a graduate assistant for Rutgers in 1989 and Penn State in 1990, before becoming an assistant coach with the Nittany Lions from 1991-95. That was followed by assistant coaching stints with the Chicago Bears and the University of Miami before landing his first head coaching job back at Rutgers in 2001.
Here are a few more things to know about him.
He was the Rutgers head coach from 2001-2011
Schiano coached the Scarlet Knights for 11 seasons, compiling a 68-67 record. It was during this time that he developed a friendship Bill Belichick, having coached Steve Belichick in his final season in 2011, when Steve walked on as a long-snapper. Steve is currently the defensive backs coach with the Patriots.
He also coached Devin and Jason McCourty, as well as Duron Harmon. Former Patriots Kenny Britt, Logan Ryan, and Jonathan Freeny also played for Schiano at Rutgers.
His best season with the program was in 2006, when Rutgers went 11-2 and finished the year ranked 12th in the national polls.
Rough stint in the NFL
Schiano left Rutgers after the 2011 season to coach in the NFL. In two seasons as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he compiled an 11-21 record. The Buccaneers held joint practices with the Patriots in the preseason, where his friendship with Bill Belichick was evident.
Schiano drew the ire of opposing coaches in his short stint in the NFL. In his first season, he sent players to blitz when New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was trying to run out the clock with a kneel down. Some called trying to knock down Manning a dirty play, while Schiano defended the decision, citing his team’s four forced fumbles on similar plays at Rutgers.
“You don’t do that in this league,” said then-Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “You jeopardize not only them, you jeopardize the offensive line, you jeopardize the quarterback.”
After going 7-9 in his first season, the Buccaneers went 4-12 in 2013, and Schiano was fired.
Tennessee backs out on Schiano
Schiano was hired by Urban Meyer in 2016 to be the defensive coordinator/associate head coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes. After two seasons in Columbus, Schiano was in line to be the head coach at the University of Tennessee, but the deal fell apart after widespread backlash that included a protest on campus and complaints on social media from fans, state representatives, and gubernatorial candidates.
Their complaints stemmed from Schiano’s background as an assistant at Penn State from 1990-1996, during Jerry Sandusky’s tenure as the Nittany Lions’ defensive coordinator. Sandusky is serving 30 to 60 years in prison for his conviction on 45 counts of sexual abuse.
Court documents released in 2016 of a deposition in a case related to the Sandusky scandal suggested Schiano might have been aware of Sandusky’s sexual abuse against children, though Schiano says he had no knowledge of what was happening at the time.
Belichick spoke highly of Schiano after he had originally agreed to become the head coach at Tennessee.
“Yeah, I think Greg’s a tremendous coach. I’ve learned an awful lot from him and had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with him when he was at Rutgers,” said Belichick. “He’s one of the very best coaches I think in our profession. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg and the way he runs his program and the job that he does.”
Belichick pointed to the way the Rutgers players performed with the Patriots.
“I would say the most impressive thing for me is the way that our players, which we’ve had a lot of Rutgers players come through here, the loyalty and I would say love of the program, the college program that they were in at Rutgers when he was there, how they maintained that for years and years after they had left,” Belichick said. “Not taking anything away from any other school, but I would just say that it’s extremely strong.
“I think the relationship that he has with his kids, with his players and how well prepared his players are to come into this league is exceptional. He’s a great coach. I’m sure he’ll be a great head coach. Again, he’s done an awful lot. He’s helped me in a lot of different ways and I have a lot of respect for him.”
After the Tennessee deal fell through, Belichick continued to support Schiano and was asked if he would vouch for him.
“One-hundred percent. Yes, 100 percent,” Belichick said on Nov. 27, 2017. “I think I said it pretty thoroughly yesterday. I have great respect and think he’s a great football coach. I’m not really involved in any other situation, but speaking about him as a coach and a person, [I have] the utmost respect and zero reservations. Zero.”
Schiano returned to Ohio State to serve as defensive coordinator in 2018, but parted ways with the program after the season. The Buckeyes hired Greg Mattison from Michigan to take his place.