I have a saying: “sometimes it isn’t the message but the messenger.” It’s not the message that you have a hard time with, but the person that’s delivering it. That’s the problem when you’ve either worked in a place too long, or you just don’t listen to good advice that you receive from certain people. You know what you have to do, but you just don’t want THIS person to tell you. This happens a lot in sports. You ever noticed once a coach or a manager gets fired, the new guy usually leads his team to a good season in his 1st year? It’s not because he’s that much better than the old guy, but it’s because the players are willing to receive his message. However, once the players stop listening it’s time for the new guy to become the old guy… and fast. That appears to be the case in Tampa Bay where 2nd year coach Greg Schiano has a mutiny on his hands.
Schiano, in his aforementioned 2nd year, came to Tampa after a successful stint as the head coach at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Before being the man at Rutgers he was a defensive coordinator at the University of Miami and he had a stint as a defensive assistant in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. The New Jersey native has a reputation of being a tough man, and a top defensive mind. Schiano signed a 5 year $15 million dollar deal with the team in January 2012, and after a 7-9 season last year, the team is currently 0-2 and embroiled in conflict.
Greg as a long time college coach is used to a system to where he has all of the power, and what he says goes. As a college coach he is in complete control over scholarships as well as playing time. It’s a little different with professionals. Professionals, besides being paid, have the luxury of lobbying their cases directly to the owners, as well as the power to force their way out of a franchise if it just isn’t working out. Pros aren’t going to give 100% effort just because their coaches tell them too. The power of free agency, trades, being cut, or just holding out for a new deal, does greatly limit the power of the head coach over his franchise. Greg just can’t bring in his players, and it’s clear that he is not a players coach. He’s part of an overall system that can limit the checks on a power hungry coach. In Tampa, Greg is dealing with players who know how to take power, how to be heard, and honestly, how to force out the messenger.
So, what exactly is going on in Tampa Bay? As mentioned earlier Schiano is not a players coach. A players coach is someone who looks out for the players, acquiecse to their whims all in an effort to get them on their side and keep them happy. No, Greg is not that. He is more of a totalitarian coach. My way or no way. That style is causing conflict in the locker room. It’s not a good sign when a newly acquired player is already complaining about his new coach’s style. Darrelle Revis, the former New York Jet, is already at odds over Schiano’s tactics and how he’s coaching the team. According to Fox Sports, Revis finds the coach’s style too controlling over the locker room, and his defensive tactics are questioned by the fact the team is playing too much man coverage. As I said before it’s bad when a coach alienates a newly signed big money player but it’s even worse when he alienates his staring quarterback.
Personally, I do not find starter Josh Freeman to be a good quarterback. He’s big, at 6’6″ and 250 pounds, but his stats are average (80 touchdowns to 65 interceptions over his 4 year career). I don’t find fault with Freeman not being Schiano’s guy but I do find fault with how the coach is going about downsizing his impact on the team. In the offseason the team held a vote for captains and it’s alleged that although Freeman had the votes to be named a captain, Schiano did not grant him the honor. To make matters worse, Freeman missed the team photo and instead of covering for the QB, Coach Schiano threw him under the bus. The situation has grown out of hand and it is being rumored that Freeman could ask to be traded. Coach Schiano, apparently sees himself as a Bill Belichick disciple. The New England coach can be rigid and inflexible but the one thing Greg could have learned from Bill is that you stand by your quarterback. Tom Brady might have been instant success in the NFL, but even when he does have a bad game, Belichick stands by him. It’s that lack of understanding that will see Greg Schiano the NFL coach, become Greg Schiano the college coach once again.
If Greg Schiano fails in Tampa, and it’s looking like he will, then there is no shame in returning to the college game. Bobby Petrino bailed on the Atlanta Falcons midseason, and Nick Saban might have won 3 of the last 4 national championships at Alabama but he was 15-17 in a stint as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. If it’s all over for Schiano after this season allow me to suggest one college job that could be perfect for him: the University of Maryland. The Maryland Terrapins are transitioning to the Big 10 for the 2014 season and in Schiano the Terps would have a head coach that has been pretty successful in recruiting in both the mid-Atlantic as well as in South Florida. The Terrapins have a strong alumni base as well as one deep pocket booster in Under Armour. Heading into the Big 10 the Terrapins will need a head coaching upgrade from Randy Edsall and a coach that can build them up to a mid pack team in a tough conference. It would be something to consider if the Maryland job does open up after this season.
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