The hiring of Greg Schiano as Bucs coach had to be one of the more stunning developments of this offseason. Any time a college coach gets “promoted” to the NFL, eyes roll. Many think of epic disappointments like Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban and see it as a mistake. Shoot, go all the way back to Ray Perkins if you want.
But those guys came from major programs. And all had a pedigree that, at least, made it understandable to hire them. Not Schiano. Nope, he came from Rutgers, didn’t have any national titles, and did I mention he came from Rutgers?
Never mind that he could’ve secured big-time jobs if he had wanted to leave Rutgers… it was still stunning. I loved the hire, by the way, as I’ve been a big fan of Schiano since watching him turn around one of college football’s laughingstocks and make it a viable perennial contender.
I bring this up now to make a point: I think it’s starting to become clearer why Schiano may succeed. It’s becoming clearer why it was, in my opinion, a clever hire. Just read the words of Bucs DT Gerald McCoy for that. McCoy lauded Schiano for actually (gulp) teaching him how to tackle.
Really. Apparently, that got lost in the shuffle at other levels of football. Apparently, McCoy had become a third overall pick based simply on his ability. Apparently, the coaching staff run by Raheem Morris last year didn’t focus on such trivial matters.
But every single day, Schiano is taking them back to the basics and working on form tackling. By all accounts — including this nice explanatory story by colleague Jeff Darlington — Schiano is taking a fundamentals-based approach. That’s why McCoy’s comments go beyond the traditional “Yay new coach!” comments that so many players make for the new guy. McCoy is simply explaining why Schiano is making a difference.
Schiano is teaching. That’s it. Just teaching. Doing what a coach does and providing a basis for learning. Instead of starting from Calculus, Schiano is teaching the multiplication tables. Years of coaching college players make college coaches cognizant that not all stars learned everything along the way. It was Schiano’s job to teach them, and I love how his approach hasn’t changed in the NFL.
He’s using the same desire to mold 18-year-olds on 25-year-olds. He’s teaching them football, starting with McCoy. It’s a young team anyway, and this will help. There’s no way this will be bad. Create a base, set your team up for the future, and move on from there.
Schiano is in for the long haul, and this goes to show that. It may even take a year to give the team solid footing. It will pay off. Really good coaches are always teachers, and he’s showing he is.
See, some college coaches are poor choices for the NFL. Particularly if those guys (like Saban) won in college by out-recrutiing everyone, it’s tough to get it to translate. But Schiano wasn’t a great recruiter. Rutgers rarely beat out the majors for talent. He took guys with so-so skills, made them just a little bit better, and raised the overall talent level of the team.
That created a winner. That’s the kind of coach NFL teams should target. Program builders. I think Schiano will prove that in the NFL, and he’s already taking strides to make it happen.