Greg Schiano is returning to Rutgers after all.
Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement on Sunday that “the next great chapter for Rutgers Football is about to begin” after Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel and NJ.com's Keith Sargeant reported early Sunday morning that the former Ohio State defensive coordinator, who was previously the head coach at Rutgers from 2001-11, has been hired to lead the Scarlet Knights once again.
“There are many people to thank for where we are today, particularly Coach Schiano and his team, as well as everyone here at Rutgers,” Hobbs said. “They all played important roles in bringing these complex negotiations to a close.
“It wouldn't be appropriate to prejudge any action that the Board of Governors may take, but I believe today that Rutgers Football is on the path to greatness.”
Rutgers' Board of Governors is expected to officially approve the hiring of Schiano on Tuesday. According to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, Schiano's contract is an eight-year deal worth $32 million with $25.2 million guaranteed, and Rutgers “has promised to look into building a football-only facility.”
Schiano replaces another former Ohio State defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, who was fired in September after winning just eight games in three-plus seasons as Rutgers' head coach.
The new job will mark Schiano's return to the sideline after he was replaced at Ohio State in January by new co-defensive coordinators Greg Mattison and Jeff Hafley. Schiano agreed to join the New England Patriots' coaching staff this season, but stepped down from that job in March before ever coaching a game or practice.
It will be Schiano's first head coaching job since he was the head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and 2013.
Schiano spent three seasons at Ohio State leading the Buckeyes' defense, but his tenure in Columbus ended unceremoniously after the Buckeyes fielded one of their worst defenses in school history in 2018. Ohio State's defense ranked 71st in yards allowed per game (403.4) and tied for 50th in points allowed per game (25.5) in 2018, and in just one year, Mattison and Hafley have turned the unit – composed of largely the same players – into one of the best defenses in the country.
That said, Schiano is one of the most successful head coaches in Rutgers history – the Scarlet Knights had winning seasons in six of his last seven years in his first stint in Piscataway, including an 11-2 2006 season for which he earned national coach of the year honors – and he's a New Jersey native with deep ties to the region, which could help the Scarlet Knights make the progress they desperately need on the recruiting trail to have any chance of becoming competitive in the Big Ten East.
Initial talks between Schiano and Rutgers reportedly broke down last weekend after Rutgers was unwilling to meet Schiano's demands. The athletic department received swift and strong backlash from Rutgers fans and boosters who were pushing for Schiano's return, however, prompting the two sides to come to a deal after all.