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Greg Schiano Rumors

Our Next Head Coach?

I usually don't put a lot of credibility in something I read on a blog hosted by blogspot. (unless it's from someone I know and trust). I put even less credibility into it when they quote anonymous sources, but this is worth discussing.

A source told The Phanatic Magazine Thursday that a succession plan to replace Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno is being ironed out.

The man in the middle of this plan -- Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano.

The source told The Phanatic Magazine that Paterno's recent poor health and a divided board of trustees over the program's future has led University President Graham Spanier down this path.

It is unclear, according to the source, whether Paterno or the program will issue a statement about the plan or clarify that this is Paterno's final season at Penn State.

The source also stated that the university, by NCAA by-laws, can not have any official contact with Schiano, who is under contract at Rutgers, but has put out feelers to gauge Schiano's interest.

That interest, according to a source, appears to be substantial and mutual.

Barring a last-minute power struggle or change of heart, the source indicated that this will be Paterno's last season in Happy Valley, and that Penn State would move quickly after Schiano at season's end.

It's been rumored for years that Schiano has had his eye on succeeding Paterno ever since he was a defensive backs coach at Penn State in the early 90's. In recent years he has turned down more attractive jobs at Miami and Michigan in order to stay in New Jersey. It certainly isn't for the lower taxes and gorgeous landscape along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Schiano played for Bucknell University in central Pennsylvania during his college days earning All-Conference and some All-American honors. He took a position as a graduate assistant at Rutgers after college and one year later accepted a job as a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1990. One year later he was promoted to defensive back coach where he served under Paterno from 1991-1995. In 1996 he was hired by Dave Wannstedt as an assistant defensive coach for the Chicago Bears. Serving in that role for two years he was promoted to defensive back coach. One year later he accepted a position as defensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. He was with the Hurricanes during the 1999-2000 seasons in which Miami was 12th and 5th in the country in defensive points allowed those two years.

In December of 2000 Schiano accepted the head coaching job at Rutgers where he has coached ever since. He took over a struggling program that had only appeared in one bowl games in their entire history. Schiano struggled his first few years failing to achieve a winning record. But several years of good recruiting started to pay off in 2005 when the Knights won seven games and an invitation to the Insight Bowl. Though they lost the game 40-45 to Arizona, everyone could tell progress was being made. In 2006 Rutgers experienced their best year since 1976 going 11-2, winning the Texas Bowl, and finishing the season ranked #12 in the country. An amazing feat for a program that only won one game just four years earlier. In 2007 Rutgers went to their third straight bowl game winning the International Bowl against Ball State.

Though the degree to which Schiano has built Rutgers into a nationally respected program is debatable, it's undeniable they were terrible when he first took over and they are now respectable. Personally, I'm not convinced he's the savior many Penn State fans make him out to be. The level of competition dropped off severely after Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College left for the ACC in 2003. Someone was bound to rise to the top, and West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers were the first teams to jump on the opportunity. But a weak conference combined with a weak out of conference schedule and second rate bowl wins leaves me wondering how miraculous the turnaround really is.