Two years ago, the Jaguars made a huge mistake by hiring college coach Urban Meyer to run the team. Nearly a decade earlier, the Buccaneers made a similar blunder.
The Bucs decided to take a gamble on Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, even though Schiano wasn’t seeking NFL employment. In a recent appearance on the Next Up with Adam Breneman podcast, Schiano reiterated his belief that he wasn’t ready to coach a pro team.
“The National Football League was something I was not prepared for,” Schiano said, via JoeBucsFan.com. “I never prepared to be a head coach in the NFL.”
Schiano said that he took the job because: (1) it fell in his lap; and (2) he was concerned that Rutgers would end up on the losing side of the ongoing game of conference roulette.
“One thing I know is I’m not good if I don’t plan for stuff,” Schiano said. “The NFL is not a place to learn on the job, I can tell you that from experience.”
Schiano didn’t do himself any favors. He quickly became a lightning rod, with his decision to attack victory formation. He also did not soften the hard-nose college approach to grown men. His second and final season was marred by a feud with quarterback Josh Freeman, who eventually was released. After the year ended, Freeman was fired.
The moment of extreme regret when Schiano learned that Rutgers had received an invitation to the Big 10.
“I was sitting in my office in Tampa, palm trees blowing outside the window,” Schiano said. “People would say, ‘It doesn’t get better than that,’ right? They called me from Rutgers and said, ‘Guess what? We just got invited to the Big Ten.’ . . . I did my best to be excited for them. But I hung up the phone and literally started crying. Because that’s what I had dreamt of. I dreamt of Rutgers being in the Big Ten. But the only part of the dream that was missing was I wasn’t the head coach there.”
He’s now back as the head coach of Rutgers, and he’s been back for three years. His experience with the Bucs should be a cautionary tale for any owner who considers pursuing a college coach with little or no NFL experience and little or no inclination to come to the NFL. Indeed, there’s a fine line between outside-the-box and just f–kin’ nutty.
For Schiano, Meyer, and others like them (including Matt Rhule in Carolina), hiring college coaches who don’t truly understand the NFL games is an exercise in prolonged nuttiness.