Greg Schiano on the 2017 Tennessee debacle: 'It just shows that Jersey people are a little sharper'

Greg Schiano was officially introduced as Rutgers' new coach on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Greg Schiano was officially introduced as Rutgers' new coach on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New Rutgers coach Greg Schiano got a poke in at the Tennessee fans who were outraged at his potential hire as the school’s football coach in 2017.

Schiano was poised to take over as the Volunteers’ football coach after Butch Jones was fired. But a massive outrage cycle regarding his time at Penn State in the 1990s as a defensive assistant under Joe Paterno and the imprisoned convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky scuppered the deal.

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Schiano has adamantly denied that he knew anything about Sandusky’s behavior at Penn State. That wasn’t enough to keep the deal together.

After spending the 2019 season out of coaching, Schiano was hired last week for a second stint at Rutgers after a lot of fan support for his re-hiring. He noticed the contrast between it and what nixed the deal at Tennessee after his introductory news conference. From NJ.com on his experience nearly being Tennessee’s coach:

“I think reflecting on it, it just shows that Jersey people are a little sharper,” Schiano said with a grin when asked what he took away from that experience. “They get it.”

While the Tennessee coaching search was a circus at the time — and led to former football coach Phillip Fulmer taking over as athletic director — it’s worked out OK. At least in 2019. Jeremy Pruitt’s team lost to Georgia State to start the season but went 7-4 after that and is heading to a bowl game for the first time since 2016.

Big task ahead for Schiano

Rutgers was a member of the Big East when Schiano took over in his first stint in 2001. After three wins in his first two seasons with the school the Scarlet Knights went to five-straight bowl games starting in 2005. The school had last been to a bowl game in 1978.

The rebuilding job at Rutgers now looks similar in the Big Ten. Rutgers hasn’t won more than four games in each of the past five seasons and has won three games in the past two seasons. Schiano did say, however, that he thinks Rutgers is better positioned now than it was when he first took over.

“In some ways, probably. In other ways, no,” Schiano said at the news conference. “You know, we're sitting in this meeting room here, I can remember Bob McKay, our athletic director when we came here, he said we're going to build an addition on to this building. I said, "Bob, we need to." And we did it, right.

“So we're sitting in a better facility than we were. You go to the practice field, it's certainly a lot better than we had with the light post falling down, right, that weight room. We are definitely well ahead.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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