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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Detail-oriented Schiano hired to turn around Bucs

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:31 PM
TAMPA -

He is square-jawed and detail-oriented, a defensive fundamentalist with a commanding aura. He's a disciplinarian and teacher with a knack for getting the most out of players.

That's how football people describe Greg Schiano.

And that's why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed the Rutgers University coach to a five-year contract Thursday, making him the ninth head coach in franchise history and ending a 24-day search.

"He's a real no-nonsense kind of guy, a guy whose players love him and play hard for him,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "And there's a universal respect around the NFL for him for what he did at Rutgers."

Schiano produced a modest 68-67 record during 11 seasons with the Scarlet Knights, but Rutgers was 56-33 during the regular season and 5-1 in bowl games during his final seven seasons.

"That part was very impressive to me,'' Dominik said. "He took over a program there that had just been awful — forever — and he turned it around and kept it going. No one's been able to do that.''

Schiano's objective with the Bucs will be similar to that at Rutgers. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2003, Tampa Bay is 62-82 during the regular season and 0-2 in playoff games.

Raheem Morris was fired on Jan. 2 after compiling a 17-31 mark in three seasons, including 4-12 in 2011, when the Bucs lost their last 10 games of the season.

Schiano's hiring marks the first time since John McKay was hired at the franchise's inception the Bucs have given a college coach his first opportunity to run an NFL team. At least one former NFL player believes Schiano has earned the chance.

"I'm very glad he got the job,'' said Terry Cousin, a 12-year NFL cornerback who played for Schiano in 1998, when the Wyckoff, N.J., native was the Bears secondary coach.

"I learned a lot from him,'' Cousin added. "Tampa fans can expect an emotional coach, but in a good way. His players matter to him. And that team will be well prepared. He'll have guys ready to play football games.''

Having guys ready to play in the NFL is the thing for which Schiano is known best. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has four former Rutgers players on his roster, has long been an advocate of Schiano's ability to prepare players for the NFL.

"His players have been very NFL-ready,'' Belichick told reporters during a break in his team's preparation for Super Bowl XLVI. "Guys that come out of that program, when they get to the NFL, I'd say most of them make it.

"They may not be first-round picks or whatever, but if they have enough talent to compete in the NFL, most end up staying in one way or another. I think that's a credit to the preparation and the program that he's built there.''

Dominik lauded Schiano's success of running a pro-style program.

"He runs a college/pro program, and everybody knows it,'' Dominik said. "That's one of the things you really like about him — that and the kind of player that comes out of there.

"When you get a Rutgers kid, whether it's in the first round or the seventh, you know what you're getting and what you're getting is a kid who's disciplined, structured and prepared. You can't say that about a lot of programs.''

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt and Buccaneers guard Jeremy Zuttah are among the pro players Schiano coached at Rutgers.

Schiano also had a hand in developing New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed and former Carolina Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan while he was the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami from 1999-2000.

In addition to his reputation for developing young talent, Schiano, a three-year letterman at linebacker for Bucknell, also has shown a knack for building strong defensive units, both at Miami and Rutgers.

During his two seasons at Miami, the Hurricanes defense ranked 12th in the nation in points allowed per game in 1999 and improved to fifth in 2000.

That led to Schiano landing the job at Rutgers, where the Knights earned a top-20 defensive ranking among more than 120 FBS schools in four of the past six seasons, including a 12th-place ranking in 2011.

"He's a defensive-minded coach whose teams have always been characterized by toughness and a physical style of play,'' Dominik said. "He's a meticulous teacher who knows how to get the most out of his players.''

With the youngest team in the NFL the past two seasons and a desire to continue to rebuild primarily through the draft, Dominik and the Bucs' owners considered Schiano's ability to develop young talent paramount.

"During our thorough search, we met with numerous impressive candidates, but coach Schiano surely distinguished himself,'' Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. "From his leadership skills to his impressive track record, he is, simply put, the right man for the job."

Schiano was a finalist with the St. Louis Rams, who recently hired former NFL coach Jeff Fisher.

The Bucs' decision to hire Schiano brought an end to a near month-long search for a coach that proved to be as wide-ranging as Dominik and Glazer said it would be when it began.

The team interviewed 10 candidates whose names became known publicly and another the team would have turned to had Schiano passed on the opportunity, Dominik said.

The list of known candidates included former NFL head coaches Mike Sherman, who was brought back for a second interview, Marty Schottenheimer and Brad Childress, as well as several defensive and offensive coordinators currently working in the NFL. University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly was negotiating a deal to be the team's coach late Sunday, but he backed out early Monday.

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