TAMPA — Greg Schiano's dream died when the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League released the former Bucknell linebacker after one preseason game.
He planned to go to law school. At night, he studied for the LSATs. During the day, he was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Rampano (N.J.) High.
Before long, Schiano hung a white sheet in a bedroom at his parents' house, where he was living, and began watching 16mm tapes of games. The law books were pushed aside for playbooks.
"And the minute I started coaching, I found I started studying less and less for the LSAT," Schiano said. "At the end of the year, I went in and saw my dad.
"My father looked at me and said, 'Wait a minute. I put all that money out and you're going to be a coach?' But he said, 'If that's what your passion is, go do it.' "
Schiano's passion was on full display Friday when the former Rutgers coach was introduced in the crowded auditorium at One Buc Place as the franchise's ninth coach.
After watching him turn a program that won 16 games in five seasons into a Big East contender, the Bucs are betting Schiano, 45, can have the same impact after they went 4-12 and fired Raheem Morris after three seasons.
Schiano was on the Bucs' radar since the start of a 24-day search for a coach. But they didn't meet until this week, after Chip Kelly decided to remain coach at Oregon.
Although Schiano turned down high-profile college jobs at Michigan and Miami and was a finalist for the St. Louis Rams job, he said those opportunities didn't feel quite right.
"So why Tampa and why now?" Schiano said.
"I can't really tell you there's one thing. I can just compare it to all the other opportunities that I've had. The issue that always occurred with me as they became closer to being a reality, I literally felt sick; nausea. My body is telling me something.
"This one, from the beginning when I met with the Glazers and I met with (general manager Mark Dominik), it felt right because I think they have the same core values that I have."
During a nearly 20-minute news conference attended by his parents, wife, four children and several Bucs players, Schiano outlined his core values with an acronym that could've described the coaching search: TBA.
"That's trust, belief and accountability," Schiano said. "Our team will be built around a humble, unselfish attitude of sacrifice. It's hard to find that in today's world, but that's who we'll be. There is going to be the Buccaneer way. There's going to be Buccaneer men."
Schiano outlined his plan to rebuild the Bucs on and off the field. He intends to hire an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator but be involved in all three phases of the game, including special teams.
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"As a CEO-type coach, that doesn't mean you can't be hands-on and involved," he said. "I think you can be both if you're passionate. As long as you play great defense and win the kicking game, that formula works."
Offensively, Schiano said the Bucs will be built with a physical running game that creates opportunities for the quarterback to take shots downfield.
"You love to hear him say (he prefers) a physical offense that will take shots downfield," quarterback Josh Freeman said.
Dominik said he believed it was only a matter of time before Schiano took a shot at the NFL. He was a Bears defensive assistant from 1996-98 before becoming the University of Miami's defensive coordinator and Rutgers coach.
"He's always had a plan, I think … to develop a team and go to the National Football League, and I'm quite honored that he saw our football team as the one he wanted to coach," Dominik said.
The Bucs still have plenty of building to do. They allowed 31 or more points in seven of their last eight games this past season while Freeman threw a career-high 22 interceptions.
"We're going to do it in free agency," Dominik said. "I don't want people to be worried we're not going to spend in free agency."
Meanwhile, Schiano must build relationships with his new players.
"There's an old saying that goes until they know how much you care, they don't care how much you know," Schiano said. "So when they know you care, then they'll run through that wall for you."