Rutgers' failure to bring back Greg Schiano leads to criticism from former players

Rutgers University and Greg Schiano failed to reach a deal to bring the coach back to the football program, and it led to criticism and calls to resurrect talks by former players.

Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed during a game in 2010 while playing for Schiano, and Ryan Hart, who played quarterback for Rutgers from 2005 to 2007, were among those who were critical of their alma mater.

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“Yesterday’s actions leave me Disappointed and Embarrassed,” LeGrand tweeted Monday. “I try to represent Rutgers with the most respect I possibly can. To see how this situation was handled makes me sick. The words I preach come from the man who they said wasn’t “All-In” HAAA what a joke.”

Hart, who is one of the best quarterbacks to come through the program, released a statement on Rutgers failing to come to an agreement with Schiano, according to NJ.com. He said that “former players wanted to express our profound disappointment and frustration.”

“The Birthplace of College Football is Rutgers University. That title holds significant weight and meaning. For every player that has put on the scarlet and white, they know what it means. You are part of a legacy, you are part of a family. It’s bigger than one man, one name, one team,” the statement said.

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Nov. 19, 2011: In this file photo, paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, center, is greeted by coach Greg Schiano, right, before an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati in Piscataway, N.J.

Nov. 19, 2011: In this file photo, paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, center, is greeted by coach Greg Schiano, right, before an NCAA college football game against Cincinnati in Piscataway, N.J. (AP)

“With that being said, as players … current or former, we rely, follow, and trust our leaders. Someone who can get the very best out of us. A person that molds us into men and inspires us to be better people. That leader for a lot us of was Greg Schiano. He had a vision and we as players bought in. We felt a bond with him that positively affected all of our lives. Greg brought joy, honor, and respect to this university and this state. He created the block R. We know without question that Coach wanted to come back home to Rutgers. As former players, we believe it’s time to bring him back. It is time for the university leadership to step up and do what is right to revive the Birthplace of College Football. This is our F.A.M.I.L.Y., let’s continue to show Coach how much we want him back.

“Because it’s bigger than one person, it’s about carrying on the legacy that was started 150 years ago. It’s time to bring Greg home! We are RU!”

Tom Savage, an NFL quarterback who played for Rutgers and Pittsburgh during his college career, also spoke out about Rutgers and Schiano.

Schiano was no longer considered a candidate after Rutgers was prepared to offer him an eight-year, $32 million deal with $25.2 million guaranteed, according to Stadium. A source told the website that the salary was part of the dilemma and that a “significant gap” remained between both parties.

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“The timing wasn’t right for Schiano, and this is the Big Ten: Whether it’s Rutgers, Penn State or Michigan, head coaches need to be all-in for their job if they’re going to have success,” a source told Stadium. “You can’t take this position with ‘the glass is half empty’ culture. Rutgers fans deserve more.”

Schiano had previously met with Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs, the school’s Board of Governors and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to discuss the position.

Schiano would have received a $4 million annual salary, unlimited use of a private jet for recruiting, non-recruiting programs and university-related travel as well as provisions for a car and private golf membership, according to NJ.com. A source said the same salary was offered to Schiano at a six-year, $24 million clip but the coach’s agent countered and the counteroffer was rejected by Hobbs.

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Rutgers said in a statement it was still searching for a new coach.

In this Dec. 29, 2013, file photo, then-Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano reacts on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. 

In this Dec. 29, 2013, file photo, then-Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano reacts on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans.  (AP)

“Rutgers is committed to hiring the best football coach for our student-athletes, our university and our broader community,” the statement said. “We remain engaged in that search with a clear focus on building a successful Big Ten Conference football program.”

Schiano started his first stint with the Scarlet Knights with four straight losing seasons. The team didn’t turn things around until 2005 when the team went 7-5 – the first time the school had been over .500 since 1992. Rutgers lost the Insight Bowl that year, but it would be the only bowl loss the team would suffer under Schiano.

Rutgers was cast into the national spotlight in 2006 behind the emergence of Ray Rice, Mike Teel, Brian Leonard, Ramel Meekins, and Courtney Greene. The team was ranked as high as No. 7 in the national poll and upset No. 3 Louisville behind a Jeremy Ito game-winning field goal.

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Schiano left the team after going 9-4 in 2011 and winning the Pinstripe Bowl.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.