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Sources: Greg Schiano left Patriots to return to Rutgers

Greg Schiano left Ohio State to become the New England Patriots' defensive coordinator in February, but abruptly resigned in March leaving a number of unanswered questions.

"I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I am stepping down from my position at the Patriots," Schiano said at the time. "This is not the result of any one event, but rather a realization that I need to spend more time on my faith and family. I don't want to look back years from now and wish I had done things differently. Therefore, I am taking time away from the game to recalibrate my priorities."

Sources told FootballScoop in recent days that Schiano left his post back in New England in order to make himself available to return to Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights' head coach. Sources said Rutgers made it clear to Schiano at the time he will be the choice to replace Chris Ash once the position became available.

Sources said that Schiano informed Bill Belichick of his intention to return to Piscataway, and that Belichick immediately recognized a late November/early December (or earlier) departure would be incompatible with the Patriots' schedule. The two came to a mutual understanding that the right thing to do for both sides was for Schiano to resign at that time.

The Rutgers head coaching position is now available. Ash was fired on Sunday, a day after a 52-0 loss to Michigan, dropping the Scarlet Knights to 8-32 under his watch and 3-26 in Big Ten play.

A New Jersey native and a former Rutgers graduate assistant, Schiano was the school's head coach from 2001-11, a run that ranks as the best stretch of Scarlet Knights football in the school's modern history. Schiano went 68-67 in his 12 seasons, and from 2005-11 the club was 56-33 with six bowl appearances, five of them wins. The 2006 season stands as the best in school history, an 11-2 mark with a win over No. 3 Louisville, a week spent inside the AP Top 10, and a school-record No. 12 finish in the AP poll.

Schiano, of course, left Rutgers after the 2011 campaign to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job and, after two years out of the game, spent three seasons as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Schiano had an agreement in place to become the head coach at Tennessee in November of 2017, a deal that memorably blew up due to false hearsay of Schiano's alleged involvement in the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.

A return to Rutgers would allow Schiano (who very much wants to be a head coach again) to return to a school already familiar with him, thereby bypassing another round of slanderous gossip a la Tennessee, while Rutgers would get an established head coach intimately familiar with the job and all its challenges therein.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.