Cook: Is Schiano waiting for PSU job?

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There has to be a logical reason why Greg Schiano last week turned down the chance to coach at Miami -- one of the great programs in college football -- to stay at Rutgers, which has had -- what? -- one good season in 138 years.

Maybe Schiano is loyal to Rutgers. The university administration did stick by him through tough times. His first four teams went 2-9, 1-11, 5-7 and 4-7. The big payoff didn't come until this season when Rutgers went 10-2, nearly won a share of the Big East Conference championship and almost went to a Bowl Championship Series game.

Or maybe Schiano truly believes, as he says, that Rutgers can be the next giant in the college game. There's no reason it can't dominate the Big East, still a relatively weak league. It has plenty of players in its back yard, not just in New Jersey, but in the New York City-Philadelphia area. And it counts Tony Soprano among its fans, which has to be worth something.

Certainly, Schiano played the interest from Miami like a maestro. He will get a bigger, better contract at Rutgers. He will get more money for his assistant coaches. He will get better facilities. That's called playing the system for all its worth.

Or maybe Schiano has a better job than the Miami job in mind.

I know, that's hard to believe. There might not be a better job in college football than Miami's. Schiano knows that; he was defensive coordinator at the U from 1999-2000. Please, spare me the mention of Miami's off-field problems. The program will be a big winner again soon for the very best of reasons.

Location, location, location.

Players, players, players.

Still, there might be a better job for Schiano, anyway.

The Penn State job.

The guess here is he's waiting for it.

The guess here is he'll get it.

Schiano was a graduate assistant coach at Penn State in '90 and its defensive backs coach from 1991-95. Those close to him say Penn State is his dream job. Schiano knows everything is in place for the program to be the elite program it was before it started slipping under aging Joe Paterno. The tradition is fabulous because of the great Paterno. The facilities are second to none. The Beaver Stadium seats are filled by 110,000 fannies every game.

All Penn State needs to get back on top is a coach who is a great recruiter.

Schiano is, if nothing else, a terrific recruiter and already has established roots in the area -- the Northeast -- where Penn State loves to get players.

At 40, Schiano has time to wait for Paterno to quit. That's important because Paterno, even though he turns 80 in 11 days and is rehabbing from a broken leg and a serious knee injury, has shown no signs of even thinking about retiring. Just last week, he talked of coaching "for a couple more years," which is absurd, but that's a column for another day.

I once believed, like a lot of Penn State fans, that Paterno's longtime defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, would succeed him. He would be hard to argue against as the choice even though he would bring no head coaching experience to what is an awfully big job. (Think Foge Fazio at Pitt or Bob Davie at Notre Dame). Bradley has been a loyal soldier for 28 years on Paterno's staff and played at Penn State before that. He is Penn State's best recruiter. There's also something to be said for continuity even if the Penn State program isn't what it once was.

But the Penn State administration has given no indication that Bradley is its guy. It didn't name him interim head coach when Paterno was injured in a sideline collision late this season. It hasn't gone public with the announcement that he'll be the man to follow Paterno, you know, the way Wisconsin did when it named Bret Bielema as Barry Alvarez's successor a year ahead of time. Sure, that could happen today or tomorrow or next week. But if it doesn't, Bradley, like longtime Paterno assistants Jerry Sandusky and Fran Ganter before him, could get tired of waiting. It would not come as a shock if he leaves Penn State before Paterno does.

It's reasonable to believe Penn State president Graham Spanier might want to make a clean break from the Paterno era. He asked for Paterno's resignation after the '04 season and Paterno, calling on all his clout as a coaching legend, refused. Spanier was embarrassed. By going outside the program to hire Paterno's successor, he could show he, finally, is the man in charge.

If Spanier does look outside, he should start his search at Rutgers.

Don't be surprised if it's his only stop.

  "At 40, [Rutgers coach Greg] Schiano has time to wait for [Joe] Paterno to quit."   

Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1525.


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