But 19 games and 16 defeats later the former Miami defensive coordinator still has no regrets about making a decision left many people wondering if Schiano knew exactly what he was getting into. Despite the continued woes of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Schiano is still enamored by his ‘dream job'.
"I knew coming in here that this wasn't going to an overnight thing," said Schiano, who is in his second season as Rutgers coach, as the Scarlet Knights (1-7, 0-4) prepare to host the top-ranked Hurricanes (8-0, 3-0) Saturday, Nov. 2, at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. "Obviously, things don't look so good now, but I believe we have hard-working coaches and the players to get it done. We're on the right track and I don't have any regrets about coming here. I believe in my heart we're going to win some football here."
Schiano, who served as Hurricanes defensive coordinator from 1999-2000 and previously coached in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, became a wanted man toward the latter stages of the 2000 season after molding one of the top defensive units in the nation. Miami would run off nine regular-season victories after an early loss at Washington and earn a spot in the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Florida. But Schiano surprised a lot of people and brought out the critics by taking the Rutgers coaching job in December of that same year.
"I enjoyed my time in South Florida and have a lot of good memories from my days at the University of Miami. But this is something that I've always wanted to," said Schiano. "Again, I'm confident we can get it done."
But the Scarlet Knights, who have posted just four victories in the Big East Conference since 1996, have lots of work ahead to reach any of Schiano's goals. The Scarlet Knights have not finished with a winning record since 1992. Rutgers has never finished better than fourth (1992) in the Big East.
And already this season the Scarlet Knights have dropped seven of eight games, including conference match-ups against Syracuse, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. Rutgers, who ranks last in rushing defense (189.4) and scoring offense (14.9) in the Big East this season, has been outscored 259-119 by their opponents.
One of the things that has helped keep Schiano optimistic about turning things around at Rutgers is the endless possibilities of recruiting players in South Florida. During his tenure at Miami Schiano built strong relationships with high school coaches in the area and he was continued to take advantage of those ties. In addition to having Schiano's weekly-radio show broadcast back to Miami, at a cost of $15,000 per show, the football program has also spent thousands of dollars in billboards promoting the team in South Florida.
"It's worth it," said Schiano.
The Scarlet Knights currently have 23 players on their roster from South Florida, including freshman running back Markis Facyson, a former standout at Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale, who leads the team with 308 rushing yards. Highly-touted freshman quarterback Ryan Hart attended Cardinal Gibbons High in Coral Springs.
"Even after the big three (Miami, Florida and Florida State) are done down there the talent in South Florida is so that we can get some real good players." Schiano said. "We have take advantage of that."
IN DOUBT: Rutgers sophomore quarterback Ryan Cubit, who left the Syracuse game after injuring his throwing elbow, had an MRI yesterday and the results came back negative. But Schiano said that Cubit is still in ‘a lot of pain' and a decision hasn't been made about who will start against the Hurricanes.
"We'll just see as the week goes on," Schiano said.
Schiano added that Hart will probably get some playing time against Miami. Hart was 0-for-6 against Syracuse. Senior Ted Trump has started five games for the Scarlet Knights, throwing for 733 yards, four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
TOSS-UP: Temple coach Bobby Wallace had a tough time answering the unavoidable during Monday's Big East teleconference: Whose better the Hurricanes or the No. 3 Virginia Tech Hokies.
"That's a real hard, hard one to answer," said Wallace, "We played them both fairly tough and close."
Wallace said that the Hurricanes recent troubles in stopping the run will be something that the Hokies will intend to exploit with Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones. But that no matter how effective Virginia Tech runs the ball against Miami they will have to throw the ball in order to beat the Hurricanes.
"They'll have to throw the ball to loosen them up a little bit, and I really don't know just how good Virginia Tech's passing game really is. I'll be interesting to see, but it's a tough call."
The Owls were defeated by the Hokies last Saturday, 20-10. Temple lost 44-21 to the Hurricanes in September. Virginia Tech plays Miami Dec. 7 at the Orange Bowl.
LEAGUE'S BEST: Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for a career-high 422 yards in a 40-23 victory over West Virginia Saturday.
Dorsey, 22-of-36 in the game, also threw two touchdowns and surpassed former UM quarterback Gino Torretta in career passing yards, completions and total offense. Dorsey's single-game passing yards total was the eighth-best in school history.
He improved to 33-1 as a starter at UM. Rutgers junior Nate Jones was named Big East Special Teams Player of the Week after a 100-yard kickoff return and blocked field goal in the loss to Syracuse.