Big Ten Media Days isn't happening as planned, but we can always pretend!
Big Ten Media Days was slated to take place in Chicago this week, but due to the ongoing global pandemic, it's been canceled – at least for now.
While it's a shame that we will not hear from our lovable cast of Big Ten coaches, all is not lost – we just have to use our imagination!
With no official conference media days, we decided to throw our own pretend Big Ten Media Days, complete with hypothetical questions for each of the 14 Big Ten coaches, beginning with a bang – Greg Schiano at Rutgers.
Below, you'll find our questions to Schiano (posed with varying levels of professionalism) complete with an explanation from the question-asker as to why the question is relevant this season and how the coach maybe might go about answering it – some taking that prompt more literally than others.
*Extremely moderator voice* Let us begin.
Ramzy Nasrallah: Coach Schiano, welcome back to New Jersey. When we last saw you in the B1G East Division you were leading Ohio State’s defense to statistically and visibly its worst season of the current millennium, despite having a roster with half a dozen 1st rounders and several other drafted and soon-to-be drafted players.Rutgers has had three 1st round NFL draft picks in program history.
Are you more comfortable with project-type players who need to be coached up, or are you planning on assembling a roster full of cyborgs and aliens like you had in Columbus?
Schiano had great success with Rutgers previously playing the role of Underdog Ambassador, then stumbled with pros in Tampa and - to a degree, just amplified in 2018 following Nick Bosa’s injury - in Columbus. Based on what we’ve seen out of him throughout his career, he’s back where his skills and track record reached their peak - and he’s equipped with several years of experience in seeing exactly how the Big Ten’s bully goes about its business.
Zack Carpenter: Coach, you instantly caught fire on the recruiting trail your first month or so back in charge of the program. So I’m curious, with this being your second round as head coach here, what’s your message to these guys and their families?
How have you been able to get them to buy in? You left the program once and came back, so how are you able to convince the players and their families that you’re back in this for good and that you’re not going to leave after three or four years?
Schiano is a hell of a recruiter, and he’s a hell of a program builder. He proved that in his first stint at Rutgers, showing that he could sell players and their parents on his vision of the program. That’s no doubt what he’s done in the 2021 cycle.
Rutgers’ 2021 class (184.00 points) is already better than, or only a few points behind, every single Rutgers recruiting class since 2012 (Schiano’s final class that finished third in the Big Ten with 226.24 points). Frankly, that’s incredible with how awful the program has been since he left.
So that question is crucial to answer because Schiano is doing something right when he talks to recruits and their families. So I want to find out what that message is but, more importantly, how he’s able to look them in the eyes and reassure them that he’s not going to bail after a few years and get Rutgers back to what it was when he was there from 2001-2011.
Johnny Ginter: "Hi Greg. Nice to see you back as a head coach somewhere. While you missed out on the Tennessee job, it's cool that you were able to make a lateral move from there to Rutgers. Again.
Anyway, you're widely thought of as Rutgers' greatest coach ever, in part because it took you a mere five seasons to turn the Scarlet Knights into a consistent winner in, uh, the Big East. Assuming that the Big Ten is a marginally better conference, do you think that you'll need that much time to put out the dumpster fire in Piscataway? And if so, will the Rutgers athletic department be financially solvent by then?
Once again, welcome back."
Schiano has to know this stint at Rutgers isn't going to nearly as smoothly as his last run with the Scarlet Knights in the Big East, but there's not a chance he'd ever admit it. It's all about keeping up the charade, baby!
Kyle Jones: The last time we saw your defense, it was getting gashed by the likes of Purdue and Maryland, leading to your departure from Ohio State. What’s your plan to resurrect a side that finished 98th nationally in total defense in 2019?
The first time Schiano took over for Chris Ash, he had a stable of talent that included 4 first-round draft picks in the secondary, two starting NFL linebackers, and more defensive ends than he knew what to do with. The result was the sixth-best defense in America and a spot in the CFP. Back in the garden state, though, Schiano won’t have the same luxury.
Schiano bet (correctly) on his corners to simply blanket receivers in man-coverage long enough for the Rushmen to get pressure in 2016 and 2017, but with less developed talent in 2018, that recipe was less successful, forcing him to implement more wrinkles as the season went on and with diminishing returns. Though a host of transfers such as Brendon White, Malik Barrow, and Michael Dwumfour moved within the conference to play for Schiano and provide an upgrade in talent this fall, the question remains how much of his playbook can be taught to a team that hasn’t held a practice of any kind since last November.
Matt Gutridge: Coach Schiano, Rutgers did not defeat an AP ranked opponent during the decade of the 2010s going 0-25. The last time the Scarlet Knights beat a ranked team was when you were the coach in 2009. What are you going to do to end the current 26-game losing streak to ranked opponents?
To this question, Schiano might say: "We believe in consistency at Rutgers and we’ve been consistently horrible against ranked teams. When I started my head coaching career with the Scarlet Knights in 2001, we promptly lost 11 consecutive contests to ranked AP teams (2001-2005).
"You know, if I start my second stint with that kind of (coughs) success, we’ll be able to extend the current streak to 37 straight losses. I’ve also never been a fan of loud noises, so keeping the cannon squad quiet against teams like Ohio State is another goal of mine. Did you know that we’ve only scored five touchdowns against the Buckeyes and we’ve played them six times?
"I also like to overcomplicate the defensive scheme to enable multiple breakdowns on every play. That should allow opponents with more talent to rack up the points as we keep our perfect record against ranked teams alive.
"Don't forget, Rutgers has another losing streak to uphold this year. We have lost 21 straight conference games. Our last win was against Maryland in November of 2017. Since Michigan was our first ever B1G victory, it will be fitting to end the conference losing streak against the Wolverines on November 21."
Dan Hope: What constitutes a successful season for Rutgers?
No one should expect Rutgers to be a Big Ten contender this year. Realistically, no one should even expect Rutgers to have a winning season. The Scarlet Knights have been a bottom-feeder in just about every season since they’ve joined the Big Ten, and it’s going to take more than one year for Greg Schiano to turn things around.
Expectations will be higher this year, though, because Schiano has a history of success in Piscataway. And he’s brought in a strong horde of transfers, including former Ohio State starting safety Brendon White, that gives Rutgers an immediate and much-needed influx of talent.
I doubt Schiano would answer this question directly, but considering Rutgers hasn’t won a single conference game in the past two years, even two wins in a hypothetical 10-game Big Ten season would be a step in the right direction. Three conference wins would be a clear sign of progress; four wins in a 10-game season, given the program’s recent struggles, would be a tremendous success.
David Regimbal: When you were at Ohio State in 2016, your scheme worked because you essentially had first-round NFL talent at every spot in the secondary. That faded in 2017 and '18 because you added more unnecessary complexity to the scheme instead of simplifying things and letting superior athletes make plays in space. My question is, how do you plan to overcome that at Rutgers? And please note, any time you say something stupid I'm going to shoot you with this squirt gun I have here.
Greg Schiano, probably: "Ah... uh... well we did a lot of great things in 2016. You know, that year we went to the playoff and even though we lost, Deshaun Watson had his worst game of the season against our defense.
"So I wanted to build on that. We brought in Bill Davis as linebacker coach and AGH, SIR STOP SQUIRTING ME WITH THAT WATER GUN!"
*security removes reporter from conference room*