Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano
The biggest game in Rutgers football history could be on the verge of reaching combustible levels.
Penn State athletics director Dave Joyner is preparing for the potential loss of football coach Bill O'Brien by making a run at Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and former Rutgers program-builder Greg Schiano, according to a NFL.com report. Ian Rapoport reports Joyner is considering flying down to Tampa, where Schiano, who signed a five-year, $15 million contract in January 2012, is considered to be on the hot seat anyway.
PennLive.com reported last week that Schiano was among three coaches who had shown interest in the Penn State job through intermediaries. The New Jersey native was an assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno.
Paterno retired in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal in November 2011, and his proteges were thought to be off limits as options for his replacement. O'Brien left his post as New England Patriots offensive coordinator to take the job, but two years into his tenure is considered one of the hottest names in coaching mainly because of the way he has successfully navigated Penn State's NCAA-levied sanctions. Reports have linked O'Brien to the opening for the NFL's Houston Texans.
If Schiano were to wind up at Penn State -- a scenario that is far from a done deal as the job is sure to attract other viable candidates and Schiano said earlier this week in denying the PennLive.report that he wants to stay in Tampa -- it could be a nightmare for Rutgers, which will host Penn State on Sept. 13, 2014 in its first conference game in the Big Ten.
Even though Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten after he already was in the NFL, Schiano is the man most responsible for getting the long-downtrodden program to the point where it was popular enough in the New York market to be desired by arguably the nation's most respected conference.
He could be on the visitor's sideline stealing attention for what is supposed to be a much-anticipated dawning of a new era of Rutgers football.
Of more concern for Rutgers' fans, however, is that Schiano could be stealing more than focus from Rutgers.
While Rutgers is in the midst of a recruiting tailspin -- having had a rash of high-profile de-commits from its 2014 class as it lost six of its final eight games, including Saturday's competitive loss to Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl -- Schiano is a proven recruiter in the "State of Rutgers."
In fact, he gave that name to the areas of New Jersey, New York, Maryland, southern Connecticut, northern Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania and multiple counties in Florida targeted by Rutgers.
By Ryan Dunleavy | @rydunleavy
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