Greg Robinson said and did a lot of dumb things while head coach of the Syracuse Orange. Among them, was a comment he made about Rutgers in 2007 when he said "They're a one year wonder...you wait and see."
That Greg Schiano-coached Rutgers Scarlet Knights beat the Orange 38-14 the next day and Robinson went 0-4 against Schiano in his time at SU.
There's always been something about Schiano that just made you want to hate him. And I can't put my finger on an exact thing. He's like the Bobby Hurley of football coaches. You don't have a specific reason why you hate him, you just hate him.
Though to be fair, we probably wouldn't have hated him if he didn't do such a good job. And now that he's leaving Rutgers after eleven years to take over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there's a part of you that's going to miss him because of it.
Seperated myself from being a Syracuse fan for a moment and thinking in terms of someone who grew up in Central New Jersey, I have to admit that I have been in awe of what Schiano has accomplished. I grew up in Old Bridge, NJ, which is a 20 minute drive on Route 18 away from New Brunswick. I lived there from the time I was five to the time I went to Syracuse. As I'm sure you're aware I'm a big sports fan and my favorite sport growing up was always college football.
So when I tell you that, at no point in my childhood, did it ever occur to me to go see a Rutgers football game, I am not exaggerating in the least. Think about how crazy that it. If you grew up 20 minutes from Notre Dame or USC or Ohio State or even Syracuse, I'm guessing you went to at least one game growing up. Or at the very least wanted to.
But that's how atrocious the Rutgers football program was. It never even occurred to you to root for them because there was no point. They had been terrible for years, they were terrible now and they were going to be terrible in the future as well. Who could muster the strength to care?
When I go home these days and see Rutgers football flags on cars and people wearing Rutgers football t-shirts, it's still jarring. Rutgers football...relevant? That's unpossible.
So for Schiano to not only turn them into a winning program but also get them in position to win Big East titles, go to bowl games and even get ranked for a few weeks, it's mighty impressive.
Of course, Schiano's arrival at Rutgers was part of a perfect storm of events that helped the Scarlet Knights become a viable program. Just as he was building, the Syracuse football program was going in the toilet, Boston College was an ACC pariah, Temple lost its Big East spot and UConn was still a few years from being relevant. Schiano grabbed the ball that everyone else had laid down and ran with it. By the time Syracuse was back on its feet, it no longer had a cupcake on its schedule capable of losing 70-14 (as in 1998) but a true Northeastern rival capable of beating the Orange five out of six years.
To be fair, while it was impressive how Schiano turned Rutgers into a competitor, he didn't quite turn that final corner and make them an elite program at any point. As I like to point out to Rutgers fans whenever they come at us, the greatest season in the history of Rutgers football ended in the Texas Bowl against a 6-6 opponent. Schiano moved mountains, but his Mt. Everest will remain unclimbed.
Not only will Rutger suffer for losing Schiano, who was turning into a mini-Paterno in terms of local influence, but the Syracuse - Rutgers rivalry will suffer for it as well. Sure, we probably only have a few games against one another anyway but there was something Greg brought to it that made us want to beat them that much more.
Throw in the fact that Schiano beat the Orange six times while head coach while Rutgers only beat five Syracuse five times total since 1914 and that'll do it as well.
Good luck, Schiano. And Rutgers, hold on to your recruits if you can. We've probably got an assistant coach at each of their houses right now...
FYI, congrats to Doug Marrone, who is now the longest-tenured coach in the Big East in only his fourth season. Whatever that tells you about Big East football is up to you.
Check out more on Schiano's impact on Rutgers and the Big East over at SB Nation NY.