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Penn State Football: Schiano Has No Plans to Interview for Head Coach Job

by and on January 04, 2012 1:20 PM

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m -- A source close to Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has contacted StateCollege.com to report that the former Penn State assistant coach is not interested in becoming the next head coach at Penn State. Schiano, the source reported, has not interviewed for the position.

A review of recent public activity logs for a Penn State University aircraft, as well as chatter among NFL players' agents may be indications that Penn State is targeting Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to be the next Nittany Lions head football coach.

Schiano, 45, was a graduate assistant in 1990, his first season at Penn State, then coached the defensive backs from 1991-95.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of talk throughout the agent community that something is going on with Schiano,” said the agent, who handles both NFL players and coaches, and is familiar with Penn State football. “His name keeps on popping up in conjunction with Penn State among people I know.”

According to public flight records available on FlightAware.com, on Dec. 27 one of Penn State’s private jets flew to the Morristown Municipal Airport in central New Jersey. After a layover of 3 hours and 12 minutes -- ample time for a substantive meeting or interview -- the jet flew back to University Park.

One trip to the Morristown airport -- less than 30 miles from Schiano’s home in Piscataway, N.J., north of the Rutgers campus – may be innocuous. But paired with two more trips, it could signal a coaching search pattern.

Records available via FlightAware.com indicate that a jet owned by a Penn State supporter with professional sports ownership experience made trips to the same Morristown airport on Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. (The airfield is not the home airport of the jet owner.)

In addition, a university aircraft flew to the Trenton-Mercer (N.J.) Airport on Tuesday, with a layover of 3 hours and 10 minutes before returning to University Park. Schiano’s home is 33 miles from the Trenton airfield.

In all, the two aircraft made four trips to the Morristown and Trenton airports from Monday, Dec. 26 to Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Search committee member Ira Lubert lives in Philadelphia, a half-hour south of the Trenton airfield. Lubert, the only non-Penn State employee on the six-person search committee, is a entrepreneur and casino developer, and a member of the Penn State Board of Trustees.

SCHIANO AND THE SEARCH

While with the Nittany Lions, Schiano worked under the direction of Jerry Sandusky, the team’s defensive coordinator at the time. Sandusky currently faces more than 50 charges of child sexual abuse involving 10 young boys in the 1990s and 2000s.

Also on that defensive staff was Tom Bradley, who became Penn State’s interim head coach when, in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, Joe Paterno was fired 57 days ago on Nov. 9, 2011,

Thirty-eight days ago on Nov. 28, 2011, Penn State established a search committee to find Paterno’s permanent successor. Since November, 24 of 25 major college head coaching vacancies have been filled. Penn State is the 25th school.

Penn State (9-4) concluded its football season on Monday, with a 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl, played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

The search committee is headed by Dave Joyner, Penn State’s acting athletic director and a former Penn State All-American wrestler and football player who earned his medical degree from the Penn State College of Medicine. An orthopedic surgeon, he temporarily stepped down from his seat on the university’s Board of Trustees to lead the search.

Lubert and Joyner were teammates on Penn State’s wrestling squad four decades ago. They were on the search team that hired Penn State wrestling coach Cael Sanderson in 2009. Under Sanderson’s direction, the Nittany Lions won the 2011 NCAA championship, the school’s first national wrestling title in over a half-century.

(For a look at other candidates for the Penn State head coach’s job, click here.)

SCHIANO’S ROOTS AND ROOT NUMBERS

Schiano, a native of Wyckoff, N.J., played collegiately as a linebacker in 1985-88 at Bucknell University, located in Lewisburg, 45 miles from Penn State. In 1989 he was a graduate assistant at Rutgers, followed by his stint with PSU. From 1996-98, he was an assistant coach with the NFL’s Chicago Bears. In 1999-2000, he was the defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.).

Schiano made two public statements in November about the Penn State head coach’s position, the first on Nov. 9:

“I don’t want to get into it, I really don’t,” he said when asked about succeeding Paterno. “We’ve got a lot of work to do here. We’re going to build a championship program here. That hasn’t changed, contrary to some beliefs. Trust me, we will be a championship program here – maybe sooner than you think.”

Then, on Nov. 17, Schiano said:

“I’m interested in one job and that’s the one I have right now.”

According to USA’s 2011 survey of major college football head coaches’ salaries, Schiano had an opportunity to earn as much as $2.82 million for the season that was just completed. His base school salary is $2,195,000, with $101,969 “other pay” opportunities. In addition, he has the opportunity to earn bonuses totaling a maximum of $530,000.

Joyner has said he is seeking to hire a coach who meets the three main announced criteria of the Penn State search committee: high academic standards, success on the football field and a regard for ethics and integrity. Schiano seems to be a good match in all three categories:

ACADEMICS: The Rutgers football team scored very high in the core measurement areas of the academic progress and success, according to recent rankings released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

UCF measured the academic rates of the 70 Football Bowl Subdivision schools appearing in postseason football games, using information supplied by the NCAA. Rutgers scored in the top three places in each of the top three categories. They are: Academic Progress Rate, with an APR of 988, second only to Northwestern; overall team graduation rate, third overall at 89 percent; and graduation rate of African-Americans, again third overall at 88 percent.

Rutgers ranked higher than Penn State in each of the three categories.

INTEGRITY: On Dec. 29, veteran columnist Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, wrote a lengthy feature story titled, “At Rutgers, Greg Schiano is Much More Than a Coach.”

The article details Schiano’s devotion to his players and zeroes in on Brian Tracey, an unknown walk-on linebacker who saw only a few minutes of playing time in his entire four-year career at Rutgers. Because he was so impressed by Tracey’s team loyalty and perseverance, Schiano amended Rutgers’ guidelines so the rarely-used player could be awarded a team letter.

“…For four years, he got the crap beat out of him,” Schiano was quoted as saying about Tracey. “For four years, he had his nose in the mud. He is the reason I changed the rules….”

Tracey, about to start working on a masters degree in marine biology at the University of Washington, said he came away from his experience at Rutgers a better man having played for Schiano.

“You want to know who (Schiano) is?” Tracey asked the writer Izenberg. “I can tell you in three words: ‘Honest and ethical.’ And no matter how many games they win, there’s a lot of Division I coaches you can’t say that about.”

ON THE FIELD: Schiano rebuilt a troubled Rutgers program. The Scarlet Knights had records of 2-9 and 1-11 in Schiano’s first two seasons (2001-02). Rutgers had its first record over .500 in 14 years when it went 7-5 in 2005.

Schiano’s breakout season came in 2006. The Scarlet Knights were 11-2 and tied for second in the Big East Conference. After defeating Kansas State 37-10 in the Texas Bowl behind 170 rushing yards by Ray Rice, they were 12th in the final polls. Rutgers was rated No. 4 in the country in total defense and No. 8 in fewest points allowed. Schiano won five coach of the year awards, most notably the Eddie Robinson and Walter Camp awards.

Beginning with that turnaround year, Schiano’s teams have gone 49-28 (.636), with two runners-up finishes in the Big East. Overall, Rutgers has won five consecutive bowl games under Schiano. That includes its recent 27-13 win over Iowa State in the Pinstripe Bowl, played Dec. 30 in Yankee Stadium. The Scarlet Knights had a 9-4 record in 2011, winning four of their final five games.

The Scarlet Knights’ offense has struggled in recent years, ranking in the bottom 20 in total offense in 2010 and 2011, and in the bottom 20 in scoring offense in 2010. In 2011, Rutgers; offense averaged 26.33 points per game while playing the nation’s 71st most difficult schedule, according to the NCAA.

In 2011, Rutgers had an average home attendance of 43,761 – 89.63 percent of capacity. Also last season, Penn State averaged 101,427 fans per game in Beaver Stadium – 95.17 percent of capacity. By comparison, Penn State’s home games were at 101.52 percent of capacity for the 2007 season.

Related Content:

Penn State Football Coach Search: List of Candidates Begins to Dwindle (Jan. 4, 2012)



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979 -- the past seven seasons for StateCollege.com. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.


Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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