Friday, September 12, 2008

Schiano not the man for Penn State

After watching Rutgers get slaughtered by football powerhouse UNC at home last night, I am beginning to question whether the Penn State football program would be in good hands with current Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Schiano, as you may know, has an escape clause from his contract and is one of the people rumored to be the successor to Joe Paterno when he retires (be it after this year or later).

Schiano has done a wonderful job at Rutgers, taking the perennial Big East doormat to bowl games each of the last three years, and challenging for the league title in 2006. He has particularly used ESPN's Thursday Night telecasts to put the national spotlight on his teams, with gigantic home wins against Louisville in 06 and South Florida last year. But this year the Scarlet Knights have had two embarrassing losses, both at home, both on national TV: 24-7 vs. Fresno State and 44-12 last night vs. the Tar Heels. The offense looks lost without powerhouse running back Ray Rice; QB Mike Teel looks like a Morelli clone, using his rifle arm to zip balls to opposing defensive backs; and the receivers seemed intimidated after a couple big hits last night and seemed afraid to go over the middle or fight for yards after the catch. The defense also looks slow and lost, losing the battle at the line, leaving receivers wide open, and missing tackles. I'm beginning to question how much of Rutgers' recent success was due to Schiano and how much was actually due to the presence of Ray Rice on the team. Consider these numbers:

Rutgers record under Schiano with Ray Rice (2005-2007): 26-12
Rutgers record under Schiano without Ray Rice (2001-2004, 2008): 12-36

Say what will about the direction the PSU program has taken in the past decade under Paterno, but in the 5+ seasons I've been following the Nittany Lions closely, we have only been blown out at home Rutgers style one time that I can recall: last season against then #1 Ohio State.

Also, I don't think Paterno would ever say anything like this in a pre-game interview:
Erin Andrews: After your performance against Fresno State, would you consider this a must win game?
Greg Schiano: I wouldn't say it's a must-win game...

Really? Not a must win? As soon as I heard that I had a bad feeling about Rutgers winning last night, and they proved me right. You think Butch Davis was telling the UNC players in the locker room that last night wasn't a must win game? Judging from the way the Tar Heels played, I would think not. Schiano seems to forget what sport he's coaching: college football. In college football, two losses usually mean your team is eliminated from national championship contention (unless you're from the media-loved SEC). So if he had any hopes of his team contending for a title (unrealistic as they were), he would not have said such a thing. It appears the man is content with being in the International Bowl each year.

Now, Penn State fans, ask yourselves: Are you happy with 8-4 teams that go to lower tier bowl games like the Alamo or Outback, or would you rather contend for Big Ten and BCS titles like in 2005? Judging from the public's reaction to the last two seasons, I think I know most people's answers, and I think if PSU wants to be better than 8-4 in the AJP era, we need to go in a different direction than Greg Schiano.


J Mays said...

I agree. I was never one to jump on the Schiano bandwagon. I wanted to see if he could keep the Rutgers team at a high level for a few years first.

Do you have any opinions or suggestions for a successor, besides someone on the current staff? Do you think it should be a current PSU staff member (i.e. Tom Bradley) or do you think an outsider should be brought in?

E said...

Yeah, I'm beginning to doubt him a little bit. When he said it wasn't a must-win to Erin Andrews I was pretty stunned. He couldn't have downplayed that statement but not say it wasn't a must-win. In college football, every game is a must win.

Keep in mind though his 2009 incoming class already has a few blue chippers so we'll see. Just now they're starting to see the effects of a few solid years so who knows.

Either way, I agree now that it is way to early to think Schiano is the right man for the job at PSU.