When Urban Meyer hired Greg Schiano last year as co-defensive coordinator, it was assumed by many that it was going to be a very short stay for the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach.
It came as no surprise, then, when word leaked that Schiano was being courted by Tennessee for its head coach position. Schiano was certainly a worthy candidate, having built a beleaguered Rutgers program into a winner.
He didn’t fare well in the NFL, but neither did Nick Saban.
For Tennessee’s fan base to react the way it did to Schiano’s impending hire was simply shocking.
It is typical for fans to be unrealistic, but the Volunteers took it to another level by acting like Schiano was far beneath their standard.
In order to shame him, fans, and even government employees, used a bit of second-hand hearsay from a deposition in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case to paint Schiano into a monster.
Tennessee students painted the message “SCHIANO COVERED UP RAPE AT PENN STATE” onto a rock on campus.
Jeremy Faison, a Tennessee state representative, even got into the shaming. “The head football coach at the University of Tennessee is the highest-paid state employee,” said Faison in a statement. “They’re the face of our state. We don’t need a man who has that type of potential reproach in their life as the highest-paid state employee. It’s egregious to the people and it’s wrong to the taxpayers.”
Tennessee athletic director John Currie defended Schiano on Monday, saying he “carefully interviewed and vetted” the Ohio State defensive coordinator and found no evidence Schiano had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions.
Former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik took to Twitter to support Schiano: “We spent hours and hours interviewing and background checks on Greg Schiano. Yes, we didn’t win. Fact-he’s honest, awesome father/husband, & an excellent football coach. This shouldn’t be whether YOU think you like him or not, you don’t even know him.”
Caving under the pressure from those around him, Currie pulled the plug on the Schiano hire. That decision left a stain on a man that has done nothing to deserve it.
Ohio State welcomed Schiano back with open arms.
“I’m not angry,” said Meyer on Monday when asked his opinion on how Tennessee handled Schiano. “I just will make this comment ... I’ve said it many, many times. He’s an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach. And I stand by my coach.”
Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley had mixed emotions. He was happy to retain his coach, but saddened by the way Schiano’s reputation was damaged.
“It’s very unfortunate that he didn’t get that great situation to be able to become a head coach, but at the end of the day, I’m happy that the Buckeyes get to keep him for now at least,” said Worley said. “I’m very fortunate that he’s still here, but at the same time, it’s very unfortunate that it had to happen that way.
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