Hell must be freezing over if I am writing an article about college football. Over the years, I gradually realized that I could not spend all day Saturday and all day Sunday watching football, so the NFL and Sundays won out. I was last “into” college football in 2006-7, when Rutgers football peaked. Obviously, Rutgers University is currently at its peak, now that it can lay claim to “BTB” editor, Nick Costanzo. However, the football peak predates Nick by nearly a decade.
In 2006, Rutgers rose from the ashes of years and years of terrible football to become a quality program. The Scarlet Knights had a legendary win over #3-ranked Louisville in November 2006 (the “Pandemonium in Piscataway” game). Later, in December, Rutgers actually had the opportunity to win the Big East and advance to a big-time bowl game. All it would have taken was a win over West Virginia, but Rutgers lost a heartbreaker in double overtime. The Scarlet Knights were then forced to settle for a berth in the Texas Bowl, where they easily dispatched of Kansas State.
Why am I randomly bringing up Rutgers football today? It is because the program’s coach during that “peak” was Greg Schiano. Truthfully, I did not think he was a great in-game coach, but he was a strong recruiter. Plus, it seems like players played hard for him. Either way, the proof was in the pudding. Rutgers has been terrible at football during most of my existence, but the program managed to have a few good seasons with Schiano at the helm.
Of course, Greg Schiano has now been a huge story this week – maybe not as big a story as Matt Lauer or Eli Manning, but still huge. Schiano was set to be hired as head coach at University of Tennessee until a bunch of people in Tennessee protested the hiring. The rationale for the protest was that these individuals believe Schiano was part of the Jerry Sandusky cover-up at Penn State. I think that is silly logic and that Schiano is getting a raw deal. I will explain.
In the early 1990s, Greg Schiano was a low-level assistant coach at Penn State. During the hearings for Jerry Sandusky, Mike McQueary (a Penn State assistant coach in the early 1990s) testified that another assistant coach said, “Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower”.
That sure does not sound like “covering up” to me. That sounds like someone seeing a horrible act and reporting it. Given that, why are people flipping out in Tennessee? It is because some people have lost all sense of degree. It seems to me that people are equating Joe Paterno’s actions or lack thereof with Schiano’s, and that is patently unfair.
I assume that the protesters feel Schiano should have done more than tell another assistant what he had seen. The protesters probably feel that he should have screamed from the mountaintops that he had seen a horrific crime and that Sandusky should be locked up in jail. However, I find this to be an unreasonable expectation for a low-level assistant coach. In any profession, low-level employees do not want to make big stinks out of things. If a low-level employee has integrity, he/she will report a heinous incident to somebody “higher up”, and that is precisely what Schiano allegedly did. Schiano allegedly DID report what he saw. It is just that the people above him chose to cover it up. That is on the people above Schiano, not on Schiano himself.
Greg Schiano was not in a position of power; it was not his job to see Sandusky brought to justice. That job belonged to head coach Joe Paterno, school president Graham Spanier, and those in law enforcement. Joe Paterno essentially “ran” central Pennsylvania in those days. He was “above” the police and “above” the university. The fact that he did nothing about Sandusky’s child molestation is criminal. However, the fact that Greg Schiano – who was at the bottom of the coaching ranks – “only” reported the abuse to another assistant coach is not criminal. Blame the head coach, blame the school president, and obviously blame Sandusky himself…but do not blame Schiano. Furthermore, Schiano has claimed in recent years that he did not actually see any abuse, so take that for what it is worth. That said, Schiano has not been found guilty in court of any crime. He should be Tennessee’s coach.
PS: Since Eli Manning is a big story this week, I will weave Eli and Schiano with this nugget: I am a big Giants fan, but it never bothered me that then-Bucs-coach Greg Schiano had his defense rush Eli Manning on a 2012 “victory formation” kneel-down. I had seen that done many times previously, and I do not really know why people freaked out so much about Schiano doing it. “Keep chopping, Greg.”