If Schiano’s work and off-field nightmare as Bucs coach doesn’t harpoon the idea that simply because a coach comes with a seal of approval from Patriots coach Bill Belichick he'll work out, then nothing will. Schiano is trying to be Belichick. Unsurpisingly, it’s failing. The head coaches that have come from Belichick’s coaching tree have had very little practical success and their resumes were far superior to that of Schiano. In fact, most did such poor jobs that they’re unlikely to get another chance anytime soon.
The noteworthy names of coaches who came out from under Belichick follow:
- Eric Mangini – 33-47 record in five seasons with the Jets and Browns; 0-1 in the playoffs; fired twice.
- Romeo Crennel – 28-55 record in five-plus seasons with the Browns and Chiefs, fired twice.
- Josh McDaniels – 11-17 record in 28 games with the Broncos; fired after game 12 in his second season.
- Nick Saban – 15-17 record with the Dolphins; resigned to take over the University of Alabama where he refurbished his credentials as the best college football coach in the land.
- Charlie Weis – 38-43 college head coaching career; fired by Notre Dame in the midst of a ten-year contract; current coach at Kansas.
- Bill O’Brien – has done a masterful job with Penn State in rebuilding from the wreckage after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest and Joe Paterno’s downfall.
Except for O’Brien all of the above coaches were known, of course, for their failures as head coaches. Apart from Crennel and O’Brien, most were completely unlikable while they were coaching and it seemed to be so by design. Of all coaches, if any coach mirrors what’s happened with Schiano, it’s McDaniels during his time as Broncos head coach. The main difference being that Schiano has been worse.
It’s one thing to work under a coach and adopt some of his techniques and foundational points for running a team. It’s another to morph into his personality whether it fits or not. If you watched Mangini as an ESPN analyst before he went to work for the 49ers as a consultant, he was quick-witted, open and engaging. He displayed none of those traits during his two coaching jobs with the Jets and Browns where he looked to be acting as if part of his job description was to be miserable. McDaniels was just plain arrogant and obnoxious, alienating everyone from the top down in his attempts to mimic his mentor.
Saban didn’t want to be in the NFL and it was clear from the start that he was always open to going back to college where he could rule his world with an iron fist and little scrutiny. The others – Crennel and Weis – might not be cut out to be head coaches. It’s nothing to be ashamed of to be a great assistant and not work out as the head man.
Schiano is not on the list because he never worked for Belichick. Instead, he was recommended by Belichick to the Glazer family as a head coach after posting a 68-67 as the coach at Rutgers. He’d been an NFL assistant with the Bears and a defensive coordinator with the University of Miami. He has qualifications, but it seems as if the main reason the Glazers hired him was because of the Belichick recommendation. In practice, his tenure has been a case study in what not to do.
Teams might be starstruck by the simple anointing by a future Hall of Fame coach like Belichick, but Belichick had a connection to Schiano from his son playing football for him at Rutgers. Teams looking for a coach need to differentiate between an actual endorsement and a favor by studying the prospective hire’s body of work and asking the simple question: “Would I hire this person without the endorsement?” If the answer is no, then the man is not the right person for the job.
What’s conveniently missed in the attempts on the part of these men to be clones of Belichick is that Belichick’s first job as a head coach ended with a deserved firing by the Browns in part because he was such a dour human being who didn’t have the on-field success to let him get away with it. Having cozied up to Patriots owner Bob Kraft as an assistant to Bill Parcells, Belichick was able to gain favor with the owner and get another head coaching job. Belichick’s career arc is testimony to the meeting of luck and brilliance. He was lucky in getting Tom Brady and able to implement his brilliance to rebuild the team. Now he can act any way he wants and get away with it because of the circular success – in short, he’s won thereby validating his miserableness.
Where would Belichick be without Brady? Belichick’s personality and insular methods almost didn’t work for Belichick. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they aren’t working elsewhere.
The Bucs’ locker room is not splintered, nor is it fractured. It’s obliterated. A Hall of Fame-caliber player like Darrelle Revis seemingly pining for the comparative functionality of a historically dysfunctional organization like the Jets indicates an irreparable problem.
Schiano met with the Glazers last Friday and is still the team’s coach. How long that’s going to last depends on how much worse the situation gets, if it can get worse. What would probably be best for Schiano is that the Bucs fire him before the season ends so he can be hired for a college coaching job and get started on recruiting. If his heart is set on coaching in the NFL, he’ll have to rebuild his reputation and find an explanation for what’s happened in Tampa. This current job is a total loss and the sooner that’s accepted, the better for everyone involved.