Greg Schiano relishes the challenge of trying to turn around the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 45-year-old Schiano was formally introduced Friday as the ninth coach in franchise history, inheriting a team that allowed the most points in the NFL this season.
”We’re beginning a new chapter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said, adding that they’re very excited for that new chapter to begin.”
Glazer said Schiano ”has a vision for what he wants to do.”
Schiano transformed Rutgers from a struggling college football program into a Big East contender during an 11-year run with the Scarlet Knights. The Bucs are banking on him to have the same kind of impact in Tampa Bay, which has not won a playoff game since winning the Super Bowl following the 2002 season.
”There’s been several opportunities to go to places that were quote, unquote bigger names or bigger programs.,” Schiano said. ”And at times I listened. But when I tried to put myself there, it just didn’t feel good.
”As I went through this process, and pictured myself being the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I only felt one feeling that was negative and that was sadness of leaving my players (at Rutgers). Other than that it was tremendous excitement. That’s how I knew this was the one.”
Schiano replaces Raheem Morris who went 17-31 in three seasons. The Bucs were 4-12 in 2011, missing the postseason for the fourth straight year.
The Morris era ended with a 10-game losing streak, during which a porous defense allowed 31 of more points in seven of the team’s last eight games and the offense sputtered, in part because of the inconsistent play of Josh Freeman, who threw took a step back in his development while throwing a career-high 22 interceptions.
Schiano was one of at least 10 candidates the Glazer family interviewed during a 24-day search. Oregon coach Chip Kelly turned down the job earlier this week, leaving Schiano, former Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as finalists for the Tampa Bay opening.
In addition to getting Freeman back on track, Schiano faces the challenge of improving a defense that yielded a franchise-record 494 points while also ranking near the bottom of the NFL in sacks and yards allowed.
The Bucs used first- and second-round selections in each of the past two drafts to rebuild the defense line, yet still have not been able to generate a consistent pass rush.
Schiano an assistant coach in the NFL with Chicago and was the University of Miami’s defensive coordinator before moving to Rutgers.
”Our team will be built around a humble, unselfish, attitude and sacrifice. It’s hard to find that in today’s world,” Schiano said. ”But that’s who we’ll be.”