The book on new Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is well read by now. He spent time as an assistant at Penn State, the Chicago Bears and Miami, before taking a moribund Rutgers program and breathing life into it, taking the Scarlet Knights to new heights, including a 5–1 bowl mark.
His success didn't go unnoticed as Schiano turned down lucrative offers from Michigan and Miami before leaving Rutgers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011.
His NFL tenure was brief, however. After going 7–9 in his first season, the Bucs finished 4–12 in 2013, as his players rebelled against his disciplinarian methods.
With Friday's announcement that he will join his good friend Urban Meyer on Ohio State's staff, Schiano is back in coaching, looking to hone his approach from one of the game's all-time greats before likely moving on to another head coaching position.
Thanks to an excellent Schiano profile from Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel last year, we have insight into what the coach learned in his time away from football. The entire thing is well worth a read, but here are the key takeaways.
Schiano knows his tunnel vision is valuable, but he needs to have people skills as well. He's now much more into positive vibes, having read Pete Carroll's book Win Forever and becoming enamored with Meyer's concept of Juice:
Carroll stresses positive energy and blares music in practice and meeting rooms. Constant motivation and stimulation were staples of Meyer’s Ohio State program when Schiano visited there this summer, and those positive vibes prompted Schiano to re-think his motivational techniques. At Rutgers, he recalls getting his team fired up for a game with Navy by saying they didn’t respect Rutgers’ mantra of chopping wood. But Schiano realizes that repeatedly decreeing “Nobody mocks the chop!” isn’t the most sustainable model.
On meeting with Bret Bielema and Arkansas, Schiano appreciated Bielema's freewheeling nature and said he needed more of that in him. “Can I be just as demanding of people, but make their quality of life better?”
He also traveled extensively and learned a lot of small things from other programs. Things he will likely try to incorporate at Ohio State, like Princeton's ball-swatting wall:
There are smaller things Schiano picked up along the way. He loved how Princeton’s defensive meeting rooms all had footballs attached to springs and nailed to the walls. When defensive players walk into the room, they whack the ball as a way to establish a culture of forcing turnovers. “Definitely stealing that,” Schiano says, proudly showing a picture of the set-up on his phone.
He now understands the value of NFL scouts. While at Rutgers, he didn't care much for them, but, especially working under Meyer, he'll see the bigger picture:
If Schiano returns to college, one of the most drastic adjustments he’ll make is how he treats NFL scouts and personnel. Rutgers developed the worst reputation of any college program in how it treated NFL scouts evaluating its players, something Schiano looks back on and regrets. There were plenty of general managers around the NFL quietly chuckling when Schiano’s tenure in Tampa melted down, as he was infamous for limiting access and the amount of practice that scouts could watch at Rutgers. Schiano was mimicking the model of Paterno, who was notoriously difficult with NFL scouts.
- He has a dog named "Fumble." “It’s like a stockbroker with a dog named Crash.”
- He spent his time away from football working as a volunteer at Berkley Prep in Tampa, helping with his son's football team.
- Schiano learned some things working on his own without a staff. “This whole PDF thing?” Schiano exclaims. “Amazing!”
- He owns more than 30 pairs of khaki coaching shorts. Groan.
- He had a secret account on Twitter to follow news and better understand the new recruiting dynamic.