Greg Schiano’s tenure as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator could have come to an end this week.
Instead, Schiano decided to stay at Ohio State, and helped the Buckeyes land their final two commitments for the recruiting class of 2018 in the process.
Schiano appeared to be headed for the NFL on Monday, when a report by Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett indicated that Schiano was "expected to become the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots." By Wednesday, however, Schiano confirmed to Ohio State's coaches, players and members of the local media that he would be staying in Columbus for the 2018 season.
"I’ve made it kind of a personal policy of mine never to discuss other jobs than the one I have, but in general, I can say after the season, there were opportunities both in college football and the National Football League. But at the end of the day, my family, myself, we love it here," Schiano said. "It’s tremendous people at the university and town, and this has become home.
"It's flattering when anybody would at least want to talk to you about doing a job," Schiano added. "But I really love the job I have, so that's what I stick to. It makes life much more doable that way."
While Schiano confirmed that he did field overtures for other jobs – though he would not specify what any of those jobs were – he never lost focus on continuing to do his current job, which this time of year means recruiting, at Ohio State. And as a result of continuing to do that job over the past couple weeks, Schiano played a leading role in helping the Buckeyes land signings from both five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste on National Signing Day.
Schiano had an existing relationship with Petit-Frere that dated back to when he was a volunteer assistant coach at Berkeley Prep in 2014 and 2015, when Petit-Frere was a freshman and sophomore at the Tampa, Florida high school. Meyer gave Schiano specific credit for the Buckeyes landing Petit-Frere on Wednesday, saying that his defensive coordinator was "knee deep" in that recruitment, along with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
A New Jersey native, Schiano also had a strong relationship with Nunzio Campanile, Jean-Baptiste's head coach at Bergen Catholic High School, which enabled Schiano and the Buckeyes to land Jean-Baptiste despite waiting to offer him until January.
"(Jean-Baptiste) added that the return of defensive coordinator Greg Schiano — who had been rumored to be headed to the New England Patriots — was ‘one of the main deciding factors’ in his pick," Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald wrote after speaking with Jean-Baptiste following his signing.
Had Schiano not confirmed his decision to stay on Wednesday, speculation likely would have lingered that Schiano still planned to leave for the Patriots, but was waiting until after National Signing Day to make his move. Schiano put that speculation to bed on Wednesday, however, not only by holding an unscheduled press conference after Meyer’s scheduled press conference – and after both Petit-Frere and Jean-Baptiste had already submitted their National Letters of Intent – but also ensuring Meyer personally that he would be back for 2018.
"We had many, many discussions, and he's informed me that he's 100 percent staying at Ohio State University," Meyer said. "So that's done and he's here."
Schiano, who said he has "always been very, very open and honest" with recruits, said he did not allow the rumors of his impending departure to distract him as he worked on closing the deal with Petit-Frere and Jean-Baptiste.
"This is where my family and I wanted to be, so I don’t ever get off that track very much," Schiano said. "So when you’re dealing with recruits, that’s what makes it easy to be honest with them about that."
“It's flattering when anybody would at least want to talk to you about doing a job. But I really love the job I have, so that's what I stick to." – Greg Schiano
Schiano really was set to leave Ohio State back in November, when he signed a memorandum of understanding to become the head coach at Tennessee before the Volunteers backed out of that deal at the last minute. Schiano, who has previously said that he will publicly address what happened at Tennessee when the time is right, said Wednesday that he still plans to do so, but did not want to take the focus away from Ohio State’s recruiting class on National Signing Day.
Over the past two months, though, Schiano decided that none of the offers that he received were worth leaving the opportunity he already had with the Buckeyes.
Contract negotiations likely played a part in Schiano’s decision to stick around, as Schiano’s previous contract expired on Jan. 31. While Schiano’s new contract has not been finalized yet, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday that the Buckeyes are set to have an assistant who makes more than $1 million for the first time ever, and Schiano is presumably that assistant.
Schiano said Wednesday that his ultimate decision to stay, though, was because he was happy with the environment that not only he, but his wife and his children, were a part of in Columbus and the Ohio State community.
“Do I enjoy getting up and going to work? Do I enjoy the people I do it with? And most importantly, is my family in a good situation? When the answer is yes, yes, yes, then it really would take something special to get you to not do that,” Schiano said.