Looking back, who turned Rutgers around? Schiano, or Rice?

By now you've heard so much negative stuff about Josh Freeman and Greg Schiano your head is probably still spinning. The Bucs in their search for a new head coach to replace Raheem Morris were after Chip Kelly. After he turned being a pro coach down for another year, the Bucs opted for the Rutgers head coach who turned that program around after decades of being a laughing stock, right?


For starters, Rutgers only started becoming a 2 win a season team in the mid 90s. Before that for decades Rutgers flirted with anywhere from 4 to 7 wins per season. (See Rutgers season records here).

Greg Schiano took over at Rutgers in 2001 and as expected, took a few years to make a difference in the won/loss record. After a couple seasons in 2003, the Scarlet Knights went 5-7 and 4-7 over those next two years. But they never won more than 2 in conference games in either season. Until 2005.

Thats when Rutgers exploded onto the scene, going 7-4 and earning only its second bowl birth in its century plus history. It lost that bowl game to Arizona St. 45-40. But was it Schiano's coaching that turned the program around? Or the emergance of running back phenom Ray Rice, who totaled 1120 yards and 5 touchdowns that year.

In 2006 the Scarlet Knights finished with their best record to date, a 10-2 mark that they took to 11-2 with their 37-10 victory over Kansas State in their Texas Bowl victory where Rice was named MVP. He had 1794 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and people took notice of Rutgers and their winning head coach!

Rice finished his career at Rutgers in 2007 with an 8-5 record which included a 52-30 Bowl game victory over… Ball State. In Jan of 2008 Ray Rice declared his desire to enter the NFL draft and he became what he is now, a Baltimore Raven, tearing up the NFL.

Some would say that last season was a bit of a disapointment, as the team went 1-3 against ranked teams. This was a theme during the coaching tenure of Schiano, whose team was a mere 4-19 against ranked opponents from 2001 to 2011. 

The Bucs hired Schiano as a coach who took over a "laughing stock" of a program (something I guess he found familiar in Tampa in 2011) and instilled respect to the brand. But there really wasn't any type of major change at Rutgers until Ray Rice played there. Rice represented an NFL football player on a college roster, going against other college athletes the most of whom could not compete against that level of play. Rice dominated the field, but in the NFL, there is no such advantage.

The defensive lines are not the same in the NFL as they are in the BIg East. Linebackers are not the same size. Neither are offensive lines, you cannot simply outclass your opponents in the NFL like you can at the university level, and as a result, the Bucs under Schiano have lost 9 of the last 10 games. 

 He instilled a level of discipline that bred a strong football program with young men. But after Rice left for the NFL, Rutgers had one winning season at 8-5 before 2009 where they fell to a 3-4 record in the Big East, followed by a 1-7 big east mark in 2010. Schiano turned things around his final year going 9-4 and a 23-17 win in the Pinstripe Bowl.

To be fair, Greg Schiano had a positive impact at Rutgers University, but pro football players are in a far different state of mind and age range; Things that work for 20 year olds cannot work for those at 30. 


About Nick

Fanatical Bucs follower since the 1979 season- and proud owner of over 650 Tampa Bay Buccaneers games on DVD going back to 1977. Blogger and historian for all things Bucs.