Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley is glad that Greg Schiano is still his defensive coordinator.
He’s disappointed for Schiano, though, that Tennessee decided to pull its offer for Schiano to become its new head coach.
Schiano appeared set to become the Volunteers’ new coach on Sunday afternoon, even signing a memorandum of understanding with Tennessee athletic director John Currie in Columbus. But Tennessee ultimately decided to back out of its deal with Schiano due to intense backlash from the Tennessee community, much of which centered around a 2015 deposition by former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary that alleged Schiano witnessed a sexual assault by Jerry Sandusky during his time at Penn State, which Schiano denied after court records were unsealed in July 2016.
While Schiano’s personal history was scrutinized by Tennessee fans, boosters and even state representatives on Sunday, Worley said his defensive coordinator "got a lot of bad rep, a lot of undeserved."
"It’s very unfortunate that he didn’t get that great situation to be able to become a head coach, but at the end of the day, I’m happy that the Buckeyes get to keep him for now at least," Worley said. "I’m very fortunate that he’s still here, but at the same time, it’s very unfortunate that it had to happen that way."
Worley says he has learned a lot from having Schiano, who was previously the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-11 and the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-13, as one of his coaches over the past two years.
"He’s a hell of a guy," Worley said. "He’s a guy that knows his football, and he has a great football mind, and just to be able to pick from that and all of the experience that he’s had throughout the years, he’s coached at some big time programs ... Just to be able to get some of his experience, and pick at his brain a little bit, has just been great for me."
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who hired Schiano prior to the 2016 season to become his defensive coordinator and safeties coach, also defended Schiano’s character on Monday.
"He's an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach," Meyer said during his Monday press conference. "I stand by my coach."
Meyer also said, though, that he wasn’t angry about what happened with Schiano because he understands that coaching deals can sometimes fall apart.
"The one thing about coaching is it’s got to be a perfect fit, and maybe it wasn't," Meyer said.
While Tennessee’s decision to hire and then not hire Schiano has made headlines everywhere from Columbus to Knoxville and all across the nation, Meyer does not expect it to be a distraction for Schiano or his team as the Buckeyes prepare to play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.
"Move on and keep swinging as hard as you can, you're at a great place," Meyer said of his message to Schiano.
Worley said Schiano has not addressed the Tennessee situation with the team, and Worley does not expect him to.
"I don’t think he will address anything moving forward," Worley said. "I didn’t hear anything, but I’m pretty sure going into practice, everything’s going to be about Beat Wisconsin."
“He's an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach.”– Urban Meyer on Greg Schiano
Worley and Meyer are far from the only ones who have played for or worked with Schiano who have come to his defense over the past 24 hours.
Former Ohio State linebacker Joe Burger and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, who hired Schiano in Tampa Bay, both took to Twitter on Sunday night to dispel criticism of their former coach.
I heard so many bad rumors before Coach Schiano showed up on campus. Couldnt have been more wrong. First class, caring, supportive, spiritual man. Its a shame idiots on twitter blocked a man from an incredible opportunity— Joe Burger (@jburgs37) November 27, 2017
We spent hours & hours interviewing & background checks on Greg Schiano. Yes we didnt win. Fact-hes honest, awesome father/husband, & an excellent football coach. This shouldnt be whether YOU think you like him or not, you dont even know him. #Meyer #Belichick ask them.— Mark Dominik (@MarkdominikNFL) November 27, 2017
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose son Steve played for Schiano at Rutgers, said he would "100 percent" vouch for Schiano’s character.
"I have great respect and think he’s a great football coach," Belichick told reporters on Monday. "Speaking about him as a coach and a person, (I have) the utmost respect and zero reservations; zero."