|Greg Schiano must beat the odds against college coaches moving to the NFL. (US Presswire)|
This is nothing personal against Greg Schiano, so please don't take it this way, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers making him their head coach is one of the worst coaching moves of the past 10 years, if not longer.
To borrow a phrase: There's a mistake, then a joke, then six feet of sludge, then below all of that is this hire.
Greg Schiano? That's the best the Buccaneers could do? Schiano? Really? Brad Childress wasn't available? Somewhere Jim Zorn is saying: "Hell, I shoulda dropped my name in there."
Schiano: fine man. Good human being. Not ready for this kind of move. Not in any way. Not even close. I don't blame Schiano for that. It's a chance at the big time, but going from Rutgers to the pros is like going from Rafael Nadal to a club pro. No, I don't blame Schiano -- this is all on the Bucs, who continue to experiment with their head coaching position by hiring unproven men on the cheap.
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Hiring young and unproven is fine, but the Bucs just did that with Raheem Morris. This was a time to bring in an NFL assistant with some experience, a Chuck Pagano or Perry Fewell type. Tampa Bay doesn't need a college coach.
This is a panic move by the jilted Buccaneers, who just got smacked in the face by Chip Kelly, who said he was going to Tampa, then he wasn't, then he was ... or something like that. This is a franchise that stays in a perennial state of jilted -- remember Bill Parcells? -- and they might be a tad sensitive. So they went for the sure thing, a guy they knew wouldn't turn them down.
This move harkens back to the days of the Yuccaneers.
The positives some are pointing out are laughable. The most NFL ready college coach? If he was so pro ready, why didn't any other team hire him before now? If that was indeed the case, why did the Bucs try to hire Kelly first?
Schiano did turn around the Rutgers football program, but there was no place to go but up.
Bill Belichick likes him. OK, that's a plus. As I've said before, Belichick is the best coach I've ever seen or ever will see, so he obviously has cred, but also keep this in mind: Belichick assistants haven't been so fantastic away from the comfy pillow that is Belichick's shadow. Maybe Belichick isn't a kingmaker. Maybe he's just a king.
Most of all, the problem with this move is the history of college coaches with little or no professional coaching experience: They have failed miserably. I mean, great college coaches. The best of the best, who left college with national titles and sparkling reps, then went to the pros and self-imploded. Some of these men didn't leave pro football. They were chased out. They ran away at trans-warp speed.
Bobby Bowden once told me: "The NFL was always too professional for me." It was Bowden's typically funny way of making a point. College coaches used to the luxury of control, of almost built-in loyalty from the players, don't get that at the professional level. They actually have to work at it; and pro players inherently don't trust coaches who come right from college.
Can Schiano buck the trend? It can happen, but Steve Spurrier likely thought the same. He burned out quick in Washington. Nick Saban is the best coach in college football today. He left the Dolphins in disgrace. Remember Bobby Petrino in Atlanta? Just two years of pro experience, went to the Falcons, lasted one year. Players thought he was a joke. Lane Kiffin was a disaster.
Don't give me Jim Harbaugh. He had a long career in the NFL playing 15 seasons. That buys you a great deal of respect in an NFL locker room. And don't give me Pete Carroll, who took Seattle to the postseason. Carroll was a one-time NFL head coach before USC.
You want to see my Saban and raise me Jimmy Johnson? Maybe. But Johnson had the benefit of the Herschel Walker trade, perhaps the dumbest in league history. It was fuel for the Cowboys and as big a factor in Johnson's success as Johnson was.
Again, nothing personal against Schiano. Good man. Nice college coach.
But he might want to rent that house in Tampa.