Rutgers reintroduced Greg Schiano as its head football coach Wednesday morning at the Hale Center in Piscataway, New Jersey, where it welcomed back the program's 11-year leader from 2001-11.
After the Board of Governors approved his eight-year contract for $32 million Tuesday morning, Schiano returned to the Scarlet Knights' team facility in SHI Stadium as Rutgers rolled out the red carpet.
In an introductory press conference featuring statements from university president Robert Barchi, athletic director Patrick Hobbs and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Schiano passionately spoke of his plan for the program he initially started to rebuild 19 years ago.
"What just transpired was an incredible effort by our university," Schiano said. "You can't say any more that Rutgers is not all in. Rutgers is all in. Now it's our turn. Starts with me, our players. Our fans. Our boosters. Everybody's got to go all in, because here is the problem -- we entered the Big Ten Conference a few years ago and the teams that we're looking up at right now, they are not waiting for Rutgers. 'Hey, come on guys, catch it.' Not even happening. They are moving."
Schiano replaces Chris Ash, whom Rutgers fired Sept. 29, one day after the team's 52-0 loss at Michigan. Through three-plus years, Ash -- the former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach (2014-15) and Ottumwa, Iowa, native -- went 8-32 overall and 3-26 in Big Ten play.
Schiano, 53, took the 2019 season off from coaching after he originally joined the New England Patriots as longtime head coach Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator Feb. 6, announcing his decision to step away fewer than two months later March 28.
He was set to join Belichick's staff in the NFL after three years at Ohio State as the defensive coordinator for former head coach Urban Meyer (2012-18), where his stint with the Buckeyes from 2016-18 included consecutive Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl championship.
"What I learned working there for three years, I thought that I was the hardest working coach in recruiting, right, and I learned that I wasn't," Schiano said. "And I learned some ways to be a better recruiter. And if I said one thing, I would take that away from my time is that there's certain things that you can do to really exponentially pop your recruiting. So I'm excited to do that, because we did a pretty good job here of recruiting, but that's the life behind of your program. I learned a lot of stuff and I hope (Meyer) learned some stuff from me."
Schiano joined Meyer's staff after he took two seasons away from coaching, following his two-year stint in Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers went 11-21 with consecutive fourth-place NFC South finishes. He ventured into the NFL after 11 seasons at Rutgers, his only other head-coaching stint, where he went 68-67 overall and 28-48 in Big East play.
"Since I left here eight years ago, a lot has happened and some of that's been in pro football," Schiano said. "I learned a ton. I've been humbled."
The records are deceiving, though -- Schiano took over one of the worst programs in college football and, after he experienced four straight losing seasons from 2001-04 as Rutgers went 12-34 (3-24 Big East), broke through with his five straight bowl appearances. In his final seven seasons at Rutgers, Schiano was 56-33 (25-24 Big East), winning 5 of 6 bowl games.
The heights included Rutgers' 2006 season, going 11-2 and 5-2 against Big East play to finish the year ranked 12th in the Associated Press Top 25.
A native of Wyckoff, New Jersey, Schiano graduated from Ramapo High School and actually started his collegiate coaching career as a Rutgers graduate assistant in 1989. After a decade of experience as a defensive assistant at Penn State (1990-95), with the Chicago Bears (1996-98) and Miami Hurricanes (1999-00), things came full circle to Rutgers when he was hired Dec. 1, 2000.
Now he gets his chance to lead Rutgers again.
"The last eight years, I followed Rutgers -- that was my team," Schiano said. "Now, I didn't let everybody know that. But whether I was coaching in the NFL, I checked the scores, I read the stories. I always wondered and wanted to know what's happening at Rutgers. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I got disappointed when things didn't go well. We need to adjust a few things because we do need to build this program to last. The State of New Jersey deserves that. Rutgers University deserves that. We're going to have to adjust some things, but it will be built to last. I promise you that."