Former Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano Talks Neckties and Lessons Learned From Paterno

Former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano cut his teeth as a football coach while serving as a graduate assistant and defensive backs coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno, and the Bucknell graduate revealed some intriguing details in a recent Q&A with Sports Illustrated about the legendary coach’s legacy, his death, and the blue and white tie he keeps on the wall of his office.

While waiting to find out if he would receive an offer to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next head coach in 2012, Schiano learned that his former mentor had passed away from lung cancer at the age of 85. During what he called a “crazy week,” Schiano, then the head coach of Rutgers, flew to State College while on a recruiting trip to see Joe’s wife Sue, and received a special gift from the Paterno family that he still cherishes to this day.

“Coach Paterno made us wear ties to the office, all the coaches, every day. He felt like you were an educator, you should dress as such. When he passed away, it was a crazy week. I was involved with the Bucs job. I knew that his memorial service was on Thursday, but I knew if I got the job it would pop Thursday or Friday. I was recruiting, and [my wife] Christy came with me, we flew out to see Sue, his wife, and before we left she’s like Joe wanted all his guys to have one of his ties. She said pick which one you want and I said give me whatever. And she said no, he wanted you to pick.

“That tie, I remember he’d wear for big games. He wore ties on the sidelines and that’s one of the reasons I think Al [Golden] does it still. That’s the tie I took and it’s sitting in my office at home because Thursday, I’m getting ready, I accepted the [Tampa] job. I accepted the job, and I’m going to fly out to State College for the memorial service. I’m literally getting dressed, and I got the TV on, and I’m putting my tie on and on the crawl at ESPN, it says Schiano hired as Bucs coach. So I undid my tie, because I’m not going out there, it’s Joe Paterno’s memorial. I don’t want attention, so I didn’t go. And that’s why I went earlier in the week in case something broke, so that’s special to me.”

After taking a year off from football after being fired as the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, Schiano is back on the job market, rumored to be in the mix for vacancies at Wisconsin and Michigan. As one of a litany of head coaches to get their start as an assistant under Paterno, Schiano hopes to rejoin the ranks of the coaching elite with past Paterno mentees, including Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts, Al Golden of the University of Miami, Fl., and Matt Rhule of Temple University.

Photo: War Room Sports

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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