PISCATAWAY, N.J., Dec. 1 -- Greg Schiano, who as a defensive coordinator helped turn the defense at Miami (Fla.) into one of the best in the nation, Friday took on a much greater challenge as he took over the reins at Rutgers.
It could be argued that Schiano, a 34-year-old New Jersey native, assumed an impossible situation. The school has lost 44 of its last 55 games under previous coach Terry Shea, who resigned after five seasons. Under Shea, the Scarlet Knights were not competitive in the Big East Conference, losing 31 of 35 conference games, most of them by sizeable margins.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Schiano agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth approximately $500,000 annually.
"We are excited to have Greg Schiano take over our football program," said Rutgers Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy. "He brings the qualities necessary for success. He's young, energetic and gives us a 'Jersey' flavor. "He knows the Big East Conference and the landscape we compete in. His background not only includes winning programs such as Miami and Penn State, but also in the NFL, which gives him a unique and complete perspective."
Schiano returns to Rutgers, where he served as graduate assistant in 1989. He spent seven seasons as defensive backfield coach at Penn State before joining the Chicago Bears as a defensive assistant.
Last year, he joined Butch Davis' staff at Miami as defensive coordinator and helped turn the Hurricanes into a feared defensive unit. Miami closed out the 1999 season by not allowing a passing touchdown in 27 quarters. This past season, the defensive unit surrendered only 15.5 points per game, which ranks best in the Big East and sixth nationally.
According to published reports, Schiano emerged as the leading candidate after Rutgers turned its attention away from Western Michigan's Gary Darnell. Other candidates included Mark Whipple of Massachusetts, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, who is a former Rutgers assistant, Syracuse offensive coordinator George DeLeone.
Unlike Shea, who came from California, Schiano has New Jersey ties, having coached for one year at Ramapo High School. Rutgers has been fighting an uphill battle to keep some of New Jersey's homegrown talent from attending college out of state.
The Scarlet Knights opened the 2000 season with wins over Villanova and Buffalo but then dropped eight of their last nine games and finished last in the Big East Conference at 0-7. The school has not had a winning record since 1992, when it was 7-4 under Doug Graber.
Schiano is a 1988 graduate of Bucknell University, where he was a three-year football letterman as a linebacker. He served as team captain his senior year and, as a junior, he led the defense with 114 tackles and was named to the all-Patriot Conference team.