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Why USF should take a long, hard look at Greg Schiano

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano walks the sideline late in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday, December 29, 2013. The Saints won 42-17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano walks the sideline late in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday, December 29, 2013. The Saints won 42-17.
Published Dec. 8, 2016

USF is looking for a head football coach, and here's an intriguing resume that just came across the desk:

A coach who has Tampa ties, so he knows the area. He runs the best defense in college football outside of Alabama. He once took a football school with little history and turned it into a respectable program. Good recruiter.

And he would love the USF job.

Sounds perfect.

Who is it?

Greg Schiano.

Ooof.

Not so perfect anymore, eh? I can see Bulls fans rolling their eyes now.

This will be an interesting decision for USF.

Schiano, 50, has the resume. He's a big-time coach who has been around big-time programs. In fact, there might not be a more accomplished coach who would actually want the USF job.

But Schiano, 50, comes with baggage. His history in Tampa Bay could be made into a movie, but only if it were written by Stephen King. A real horror show.

Schiano went 11-21 as coach of the Bucs, and the organization was pretty much a mess the entire time he was here, although he had plenty of co-conspirators.

He left behind an organization in disarray and his reputation in ruins.

Maybe if he had won, he would have been seen as demanding and hard-working and a perfectionist.

But because the Bucs lost, Schiano was seen simply as a jerk, a bully, a mad dictator.

It's hard to imagine that moving out of town and having success under Urban Meyer as Ohio State's defensive coordinator has mended all the bridges he burned in Tampa Bay.

Yet there are those who know him who swear he has changed. He's a new man, so different than the bull in the One Buc China Shop. They claim the Bucs experience humbled him, made him realize that he isn't always the smartest guy in the room, that being nice and successful are not mutually exclusive.

But there are also those who know him who claim he is more phony than nice, more cunning than sincere, that this is all just an act to get another head coaching job.

Personally, while covering Schiano, I found him to be a nice enough fellow. But I didn't work for him. I'm guessing he treated me and the rest of the media much kinder than those under his thumb.

My only issue with Schiano was his complete lack of success as Bucs coach.

Many claim that he really wasn't all that great at Rutgers — only 68-67 and never won a Big East title.

But you have to remember where Rutgers was before he showed up. Before Schiano, Rutgers had been to one bowl game in more than 100 years. In 11 seasons under Schiano, it went to six bowl games.

It took a few seasons to get the Scarlet Knights on track, but when he did, he went 56-33 over his last seven seasons. That's a heck of a job.

So is the job he has done at Ohio State.

Should USF be interested?

Absolutely. At least enough to have a conversation.

Besides, it's not like there's a slam-dunk candidate out there.

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Charlie Strong ran Texas into the ground. Lane Kiffin has so much baggage he could moonlight at Tampa International Airport. Lawrence Dawsey has never been a head coach.

Schiano certainly deserves an interview as much as any of those "names.'' And, I'm telling you, the guy is going to end up a head coach with someone eventually.

Check him out. Talk to him. See if he has changed. See if he is a different person and coach than the egomaniac who bungled the Bucs.

After all, he has the first thing you look for in a head coach:

He looks good on paper.

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