When the Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano from Rutgers earlier this year, few league insiders had much to say. Now that Schiano has ruffled the feathers of two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin by telling Schiano’s guys to play football during, you know, a football game, those who had previously been silent are teeing off.
Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports writes, relying on multiple unnamed sources, that Schiano was considered to be a bully during his time at Rutgers. Silver reports that Schiano was “universally viewed as unaccommodating, intimidating and downright disrespectful by NFL representatives who paid visits to Rutgers.”
“It’s his way or [expletive] you,” an unnamed veteran coach told Silver. “He needs to back up a little bit, or he’s going to have a very hard time in this league over the long haul.”
We’ve got no reason to doubt Silver’s reporting, although we wonder whether the opinions expressed would be quite as strong if not anonymous.
That said, coaches are often jerks.
It’s a point we made last month, when ESPN devoted a segment of Outside The Lines to the scintillating question of whether suspended Saints coach Sean Payton is a nice guy. Plenty of football coaches aren’t nice guys (cough . . . Parcells . . . cough . . . Belichick), for a variety of reasons both strategic and psychological.
Though Schiano has yet to establish much of a track record at the NFL level, his 11 years at Rutgers rubbed scouts the wrong way.
“Penn State was off limits for all but two days a year, but they didn’t make you feel as unwelcome,” another unnamed source told Silver. “At Rutgers, it was a really unpleasant day. You were made to feel like an outsider, like you weren’t welcome. And everyone was scared to talk to you.
“[Schiano] tried so hard to be a hard ass and went out of his way to be rude. When you’d pass him in the hallway, you might say, ‘Good morning,’ and he’d look at you like you’re a [expletive] idiot. A guy like him doesn’t realize that probably half of us played the game at a really high level – it’s completely condescending. He would go out of his way to make you feel as uncomfortable as he could.”
The disrespect, per the report, went farther than interactions. Scouts were given strangely limited access to Rutgers practices.
“There’s a box, a little bitty box, way away from the field,” one of the sources told Silver. “All the scouts had to stand in that box like a bunch of little kids. You couldn’t step out; you literally had to stand in it. My feeling is that given who was chosen to coach the Bucs, all Tampa scouts should have to stand in a box at every college in America.”
Of course, none of that stopped Buccaneers G.M. Mark Dominik from hiring Schiano. And if Schiano is successful at the NFL level, he’ll be no different than any of the other coaches who were primarily known for being big jerks until they put pelts on the wall — and even after.
Let’s face it, while the resentment of Schiano has caused many to embrace Coughlin, he was regarded as a big jerk, too, until those Super Bowl trophies started to pile up.
Bottom line? Plenty of football coaches are big jerks. (Not all, but plenty.) Some are worse than others. And winning is the best way to get people not to notice, or to care, about any antisocial tendencies that so many football coaches seem to have.
For Schiano, that puts even more pressure on him to win at this level, or he’ll soon be back at a college program, possibly making NFL scouts feel even less welcome.