Rutgers has special place in Schiano’s heart

3:17 p.m Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 Journal-News Sports
Ohio State’s Greg Schiano hugs Dre’Mont Jones after he recorded a safety against UNLV on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has coached from the sideline for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the last two games. He brings a fiery presence to the bench. He reacts to big plays in the same way his players do, jumping up and banging chests or bumping hips and grabbing players for hugs.

Schiano is so enthusiastic Ohio State assigned a strength coach, Quinn Barham, to follow him along the sideline to make sure he doesn’t wander onto the field and earn a sideline violation penalty. In the 38-7 victory against Army and the 54-21 victory against UNLV, Barham was often spotted grabbing Schiano around the waist and pulling him back to the sideline.

A reporter asked Schiano about Barham on Tuesday after practice.

“Let’s not blow that up,” Schiano said with a smile. “He’s getting some workout, isn’t he?”

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Schiano is in the news for a different reason this week. The No. 11 Buckeyes (3-1, 1-0) play at Rutgers (1-3, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Schiano coached the Scarlet Knights for 11 seasons (2001-11) and led them to six bowl games. He coached against Rutgers last season in Columbus, but this will be his first trip back to High Point Solutions Stadium as a head coach.

“It’ll be weird, but life’s weird,” Schiano said. “You just keep rolling. I’m not a big sentimentalist. Being from New Jersey, it was really neat to go there and do what we did. My four kids spent the majority of their childhood there. We were there 11 years. It’ll always have a special place in my heart, but now it’s all eyes forward. We have eight straight league games, starting with Rutgers.”

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Schiano coached Rutgers to six winning seasons, including an 11-2 record in 2006.

“People said I was crazy to go there when I did,” Schiano said. “I was at the University of Miami. It was an incredible program. It was humming. But I was born and raised (in New Jersey). My whole family’s there. At the time, it was a dream of mine. It was a weird dream, but it was a dream to make college football in New Jersey like it is in so many other great states.”

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Since Schiano left, Rutgers has fallen on hard times. Kyle Flood was 27-24 in four seasons. Former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash finished 2-10 in his first season in 2016.

“I certainly want it to succeed,” Schiano said. “The guy who succeeded me at Rutgers was one of my assistants. I certainly wanted him to do well. I think Chris is going to get it where it needs to be. I want that to happen — just not this weekend.”

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