Greg Schiano describes what it takes to build Rutgers into a contender in B1G East
Success at Rutgers has been limited since it joined the B1G in 2014. But the athletic department made a significant commitment to Greg Schiano after the 2019 season, proving it wasn’t satisfied with being a doormat to the rest of the conference.
In his first 11-year run in Piscataway, Schiano and the Scarlet Knights enjoyed quite a bit of success in the Big East. From 2001-11, Rutgers went 68-67, went 5-1 in bowl games and posted winning records six times in the last seven seasons of the first Schiano era. That included an 11-2 mark and a No. 12 ranking in 2006.
Now, as Schiano prepares for his second run in Piscataway, the situation is a little bit different. The seasoned head coach is looking to build a perennial power in the toughest division of college football — one that includes Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.
How can Schiano take Rutgers to that level? It starts with facilities and generating interest and money.
“From a training perspective, we need to build a football building with an indoor [practice facility] connected,” Schiano said on the Scarlet Spotlight podcast. “And that it will put us at the very top of all the people we compete with. That’s going to be important. You don’t want to rush it, you want to do it right.
“We need to do things inside our stadium. Our stadium is fine, the size is perfect, but we need to have more luxury space for businesses and individuals to have their own. We need to do some things with premium spaces that allow that to occur. That’s not just great for our fans, but their huge income generators for our football program.”
Getting on a level playing field with the elite programs in the division is an important task. Schiano also understands, though, that facilities and fan attendance don’t come without results on the field.
That’s something he learned last time he was at Rutgers.
“Winning is the No. 1 thing that does that. We saw that in our first go-round,” Schiano said. “That was exciting. All those sellouts in a row. That really changes your balance sheet when you start doing that week in and week out, year in and year out. So, that’s going to be critically important. So I think it all meshes together.”
Rutgers will be in an interesting situation in 2020. With spring practices canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schiano has had very little time to see what his players can do on the field. Yes, he’s been speaking with them during the offseason, but losing time to build chemistry on the field is an obstacle the program will have to overcome during fall camp.
Schiano isn’t the only coach dealing with that, but it doesn’t make the situation any easier.