With the rumors mounting of Greg Schiano’s return to coach the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, there’s a lot of discussion around the only Power 5 head coaching position in the New York media market currently open. Schiano certainly seems to be the frontrunner, but depending on what you think the methodology is for Rutgers, there could be several other options as well. After all, the Illinois Fighting Illini are 3-1 against Rutgers since tapping fellow fired Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith. Perhaps Schiano is not the only choice.
Dirk Koetter, Atlanta Falcons OC
This is a hire that ticks some key boxes: Koetter is a hot commodity as the most recent coach to be fired by the Bucs, and had a better record than Schiano (19-29 vs 11-21).
However, the comparison to Schiano doesn’t end there. Koetter has a 66-44 record as a D1 head football coach, far outpacing Schiano’s 68-67 record. Even just looking at his Arizona State Sun Devils tenure yields a 40-34 record.
Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts HC
At only 64, the Pro Football Hall of Famer may very well have some desire to get back in the game. Best known for being the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl and bestowing the honor of being the first African-American head coach to lose a Super Bowl upon his protege Lovie Smith, Dungy went 54-42 as the head coach in Tampa and developed the Tampa 2 with Smith during that timeframe. He’s spent his whole coaching career in the NFL, but perhaps a change of scenery will present a new challenge to the once-fired Buccaneers coach.
Raheem Morris, Atlanta Falcons AHC
Morris was the defensive coordinator for Ron Prince’s 2006 Kansas State Wildcats, who notably upset the #4 Texas Longhorns. At only 43, he is certainly hunting for another head coaching position. He also bested Schiano’s mark in Tampa Bay before being fired, going 17-31
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders HC
Though he’s perpetually on the verge of becoming the next head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, Gruden currently coaches the Raiders in his return to coaching after a decade of playing a caricature of an intense football weirdo on ESPN. This is a move that worked very well for Herm Edwards of Arizona State, as saying weird things on ESPN prepared him for the college game better than anyone thought possible. As Tampa Bay head coach, Gruden won the franchise’s only Super Bowl before eventually being fired with a 57-55 record. This guy, this is a guy, I like to call this guy Grinny Testaverde, because you can see him cracking a creepy smile on the sideline so often.
Sam Wyche, Pickens High School OC
Wyche has retreated to the high school ranks in South Carolina since leaving the NFL, but he did guide the Cincinnati Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance in 1989. His NFL stint comes after a year as the head coach of Rutgers’ blood rival, the Indiana Hoosiers, where he went 3-8 with two conference wins. Crucially, one of those conference wins was against the biggest rival for the Scarlet Knights, the hated Michigan State Spartans. Wyche took a struggling program and defeated the team Rutgers battles at the end of every season in a classic matchup that doesn’t have a name yet for some reason. He put up a 23-41 record as head coach of the Buccaneers before being fired.
Leeman Bennett, former Atlanta Falcons HC
The Atlanta connection is a theme that runs through this whole list and is probably the only thing that really ties it all together. A former Kentucky Wildcats quarterback, Bennett coached the Falcons during the era of Jerry Glanville’s “Grits Blitz” defense, where the Falcons would routinely blitz 9 to 10 defenders. This is a real thing, and in 1977 they set the all-time NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 14 game season with 129 (9.2ppg). This was effective for exactly one year, but game footage from that year is hilarious.
Bennett was fired from Tampa Bay in 1986 after going 4-28.
Ray Perkins, assistant coach, Oak Grove HS
Perkins is a name with ties all over the country, both in the recruiting hotbeds of the Deep South and New Jersey. He’s a proven winner, having served under Don Coryell, but his eye for talent is also clear as evidenced by two assistant coaching hires he made as an assistant in New England: Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Notably, this was the first NFL gig for Parcells. Perkins coached the New York Giants of East Rutherford, NJ for three years before taking over as the head coach of the honest-to-God Alabama Crimson Tide. He went 32-15-1 in Tuscaloosa, a stint which included a win over the Penn State Nittany Lions and a victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes IN NEW JERSEY. He is perhaps the last coach to be hired AWAY from Alabama, as a highly lucrative NFL gig opened up after a 10-3 season with a top-10 finish in the AP poll.
He was fired from Tampa Bay in 1990 after posting a 19-41 record.
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC
They’re 2-5 this year, perhaps Rutgers can pry him away before Tampa has the chance to fire him.