Born: June 1, 1966
Gregory Edward Schiano was born June 1, 1966 in Wyckoff. His parents, Renee and Barry, raised him to respect authority and cherish family dynamics. Greg’s father worked in the textile industry and regularly put in 60-hour weeks. This work ethic rubbed off on Greg, who devoted his body and mind to becoming a great football player. People who saw him play as a grade-schooler recall how he dominated the field. Greg was also a serious student; as a college coach he would stress the importance of academics to his players—if they didn’t go to class, they didn’t suit up on game day.
Greg starred for coach Mike Miello at Ramapo High School starting his freshman year. As a 190-pound senior linebacker, Greg was light for a major college program, but Bucknell assistant (and fellow New Jerseyan) Joe Susan believed he was a perfect for the Bison defense. Susan and Miello would later join Greg on his Rutgers coaching staff.
Greg played linebacker and lettered three years for coaches Bob Curtis and George Landis. The stars of these teams included quarterback Jim Given and receiver Mike Guerrini, as well as Greg who led the team in tackles and was All-Patriot Conference as a junior, and was a co-captain in 1987 in his senior year.
Greg set his sights on a coaching career after graduating in 1988. He returned to his old stomping grounds at Ramapo High the following fall and then snagged an graduate assistant’s job at Rutgers in 1989. In 1990, Greg moved to Penn State, where he was anointed defensive backfield coach by Joe Paterno. He fulfilled this role from 1991 to 1995, where he worked with Darren Perry, Tony Pittman and Brian Miller. The 1994 team won the Rose Bowl and finished with a #2 national ranking. Greg also did some recruiting for the Nittany Lions, landing running back Curtis Enis in 1995.
Greg went pro in 1996, joining Dave Wannstedt’s Chicago Bears staff as a defensive assistant. These were lean years for the Bears, and after two 4–12 seasons Wannstedt and his coaches were fired. Greg actually took a step forward and was hired on Wannstedt’s recommendation as Defensive Coordinator by the University of Miami. There he tutored the likes of Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma and other top players. In two years with the Hurricanes, his defense ranked 12th and 5th in the nation in points allowed, putting him on the head coaching radar.
Sure enough, when the Rutgers job opened up for 2001, Greg was at the top of the school’s list. In December of 2000, the Scarlet Knights announced that they had hired him for the job. Greg finished the yea with Miami, as they beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl and ended up with a #2 ranking.
Greg had some work to do. He knew better than anyone that New Jersey’s best players tended to go out of state for college, notably Penn State. Slowly but surely he rebuilt the Scarlet Knights, winning only 8 games in his first three seasons. Greg’s message to his players was Keep Choppin’—meaning that it takes a focused and consistent effort to fell a big tree.
In 2004, Greg decided to take over defensive coordinator duties himself, and by 2005 Rutgers was back on the winning track. The team went 7–4, highlighted by a 37–29 victory over Pitt and his old mentor Wannstedt, and the school’s first bowl bid in over a quarter-century.
In 2006, with a dynamic backfield of Ray Rice and Brian Leonard, and explosive freshman receiver Kenny Britt, the Scarlet Knights started 9–0 and rose to #6 in the national rankings after defeating the #3-ranked Louisville Cardinals. A BCS championship bid was theoretically within reach if the Scarlet Knights ran the table, but a triple-overtime loss to West Virginia closed that door. Rutgers did earn a postseason bid, playing Kansas State in the first Texas Bowl and destroying the Wildcats 37–10. It was the first bowl triumph game in school history. The Scarlet Knights finished 12–3 with a #12 national ranking. For his efforts, Greg was honored with several Coach of the Year awards.
Greg spent five more years as head coach at Rutgers. With the exception of a heartbreaking 4–8 season in 2010 (during which Eric LeGrand was paralyzed in a game against Army), he produced a winning record and postseason bowl victory each year. In 2007, the Scarlet Knights cracked the Top 10 again, though only for a couple of weeks. On December 30th, 2011, Rutgers defeated Iowa State 27–13 at Yankee Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl. The victory was Greg’s 98th against 97 losses, giving him a winning record as Rutgers coach.
A few weeks later, Greg announced that he was accepting the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming off a 4–12 season, the Bucs had good young players but also lots of room for improvement. Greg built the offense around quarterback Josh Freeman and running back Doug Martin. He also retooled the offense to stop the run, and this would become the team’s greatest strength as they improved to 7–9.
In 2013, Greg went to work on Tampa Bay’s pass defense, which was among the NFL’s poorest. The experiment was far from a success, as the Bucs dropped their first 8 games and Greg benched (and then released) Freeman, who lost all confidence in his abilities. Freeman’s replacement, rookie Mike Glennon, led the club to impressive victories over the Dolphins, Falcons and Lions. Nevertheless, Greg was fired after the season. He landed on his feet, however, becoming the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Ohio State. In 2015, the Buckeyes went 12–1 and finished with a #4 national ranking.
Greg stayed as Ohio State DC for two more seasons, after which he turned down a job with the Patriots to take a year off. In 2020, he returned to Rutgers on an 8-year $32 million contract. The Scarlet Knights went 3–6 and had three games cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Three of those losses—to Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska—were decided by a touchdown or less.