Greg Schiano is not in the NFL or college football but, technically, he’s not taking a year off from coaching. No, Schiano is the most overqualified volunteer assistant in the history of Florida high school football, serving as the assistant defensive line coach for Berkeley Prep in Tampa, where three Schiano boys (a senior and freshman twins) play.
Pete Thamel had a nice profile of Schiano for TheMMQB.com, still living in Tampa while he plots his next move. In many ways it’s the typical coach-taking-a-year-off story of a football autobot morphing back into a civilian dad, making breakfast for the kids, learning how to create a PDF, catching up on a litany of television series that went unwatched in the grind of working 16-hour days, the whole shebang. Every free agent coach takes time to visit other staffs, but not many get inside access at the A-list programs Schiano has visited: the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, Alabama, and Ohio State, among others.
The biggest change Schiano will make is to be a more welcoming, less autocratic version of himself from Rutgers and Tampa Bay. Take this paragraph, for example:
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. Again, by the time Schiano adjusted late in his tenure, it was too late to outdistance the reputation. “I didn’t see how that would help Rutgers, which was dumb,” Schiano says. “We were putting so many kids in the league even though it wasn’t a good visit. We could’ve put more in, probably.”
It’s a little eyebrow-raising that it would take a year away for a college coach to see the benefit in wooing NFL scouts, but Schiano will sell the new-and-improved version of himself (shorter meetings, thanks to Chip Kelly; customized smoothies waiting for players as soon as they leave the practice field; courtesy of Nick Saban) with the old, hard-driving version of himself that skyrocketed Rutgers out of college football’s eternal basement.
Where will it land him? It’s impossible to say right now, but it will be interesting to find out.