COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Rutgers away locker room will be a new sight for some Ohio State players, but will also be extremely familiar to one coach.
Buckeye's defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who spent 11 years at the helm for the Scarlet Knights, will be returning for the first time to his former place of employment for the first time since 2011. In his time with Rutgers, Schiano amassed 68 wins, a 5-1 bowl record, and even got two top-10 AP rankings for a team that many deem an unworthy presence in the Big Ten conference.
Although he is used to the home locker rooms mostly, Schiano will not be in unfamiliar ground on the away side of things.
"I've been in there, many times, because we used that for other stuff," he said Tuesday. "It'll be weird. Life's weird. Just keep rolling."
Schiano, a native of New Jersey, first started is college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Rutgers in 1989. He would go on to places like Penn State, the Chicago Bears and the University of Miami (FL) before winding up in the head role in Piscataway.
Wyckoff, the town his Schiano's birth, is just a 56 mile drive from Rutgers University. Although he is going to be close to home, there will be no watery eyes for Schiano when he walks back into High Point Solutions Stadium on Saturday.
"I'm not a big sentimentalist, but I really ... being from New Jersey, it was really neat to be able to go there and do what we did. My four kids spent the majority of their childhood there," Schiano said. "We were there 11 years. So, it'll always have a special place in my heart. But, now it's all eyes forward."
Although Rutgers will be treated as any other opponent for Schiano, the personal ties are still in New Jersey. Whether it be his first head coaching job, his friend and former player Eric LeGrand or the place where his kids grew up, there will be plenty to distract him.
Schiano even said himself that coaching at Rutgers was a dream come true when he got the job. In addition, the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator said he has a personal relationship with current Scarlet Knights' head coach Chris Ash, making this an even more close to home battle for Schiano.
However, it's not looking like there will be any distractions on the defensive coaching side for Ohio State.
"We have, what is it, eight-straight league games now? Starting with Rutgers," Schiano said. "You gotta win this game."