Greg Schiano was scheduled to be in State College, Pennsylvania Thursday to attend a memorial service for his mentor, friend and football coaching idol Joe Paterno. Schiano had to cancel that trip because he was concluding negotiations on a deal that would make him an NFL head coach. This afternoon in Tampa, Florida the 45-year old Schiano will be introduced as the Buccaneers new head coach complete with a 5-year contract. Of course he already had a contract, a really good one to coach Rutgers for another five years at $2.3 million per season. However as we have come to learn contracts in sports often mean very little and Schiano, a man who preached loyalty has now left New Jersey’s only major college football program in a state of flux.

The developments in Piscataway left RU supporters in shock as this was one they never saw coming. It was only a month ago that Schiano had concluded a surprisingly successful season by guiding the Scarlet Knights to a win in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Even better than that was the fact that Rutgers was poised to secure the best crop of recruits in school history with at least 17 expected to sign scholarship offers next Wednesday. However when news got out that Schiano was leaving several said they would consider other options, including offensive lineman Ryan Brodie of Long Branch who only verbally committed to Rutgers a few days ago.

At least to me it was ironic that this all shook out on the day thousands saluted Paterno, the legendary football coach and humanitarian who died last Sunday. It was Paterno who gave the then 25-year old Schiano his first big break in coaching when he hired him as an assistant in 1991. He coached five seasons there before moving on and remained close with Paterno until his death. There were many who thought Schiano would only leave Rutgers to coach at Penn State and if that never came to pass then he would likely be a Scarlet Knights lifer. We know that’s no longer an option.

While some Rutgers faithful are probably bitter this morning you can’t argue that Schiano did raise the profile of the program in his 11 years on the banks of the old Raritan. While they didn’t win any championships they provided plenty of highlights for students and alumni and also performed well in the classroom and community. That’s not something that should be overlooked or forgotten although my gut tells me Schiano’s surprising exodus to Florida has many feeling when it comes to loyalty….in the end he didn’t practice what he preached.