The court of public opinion does not abide by the same laws as actual courts and because of that, Greg Schiano will not be the next head coach at the University of Tennessee.
Part of the reason why is that Schiano’s name was uttered during the Jerry Sandusky investigation at Penn State, where Schiano was an assistant coach from 1990-95 near the end of Sandusky’s reign of terror. It was alleged that Schiano knew about Sandusky’s crimes and the rape of young boys on campus, an awful thing to have attached to your name, especially if it is not true.
If it is true, Schiano is awful and deserves to never work in college football again. But right here, right now, that is a very big IF.
Here’s where it all stems from:
During the Sandusky investigation, whistleblower Mike McQueary testified that another coach, Tom Bradley, told him that Schiano said he saw Sandusky abusing a young boy and never reported it to the proper authorities.
“Greg had come into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower,” McQueary said.
Schiano and Bradley have been denying the story for more than a year. The Freeh Report, which looked under every rock for dirt connected to Sandusky, never turned its attention to Schiano, never interviewed him. The same investigators that raised questions about plenty of other Penn State officials that didn’t do everything they could to stop Sandusky never pursued the Schiano chapter.
In essence, he is being accused of doing the same thing Joe Paterno was accused of: looking the other way.
So first thing’s first: If Schiano really did not know about the Sandusky horror show, he should try to prove it. He should want to prove it. If he wants to work again, he might have to prove it. And as ridiculous as taking a televised lie detector test sounds, it is the only way Schiano can try to sway the public that he knew nothing about Sandusky.
Of course, Schiano will do no such thing. He’s probably got an army of lawyers that would strongly advise him to never do that, since lie detector tests are never 100 percent accurate. But if you have a better way of trying to prove he’s innocent, let’s hear it. Because in 2017, in the court of public opinion, a body that can control your livelihood, your potential to ever work again, you are guilty until proven innocent. In today’s world, fair or not, an accusation can merit a death sentence and that is a terribly frightening reality.
So if he’s innocent, Schiano should make an effort to prove it.
But then there is the fact that Schiano isn’t all that good of a head coach. He is still living off one season at Rutgers more than 10 years ago. Pandemonium in Piscataway was in 2006, 11 years ago this month. That was the greatest season in Rutgers history when the Scarlet Knights won that memorable game against Louisville with Chris Carlin on the call and finished 11-2 and later won the Texas Bowl. For all those lovely memories, Schiano, the greatest coach in Rutgers history, finished with a 68-67 record at the school. In conference play, his teams went 28-48.
Still, pandemonium pushed Schiano up the ranks and he graduated to the NFL in 2012, where he was exposed as being more than a bad coach. He was also exposed as potentially a bad guy. So for all the people coming out of the woodwork Monday to defend Schiano, who could reap tens of millions of dollars for being left at the altar by Tennessee, saying what a good dude he is and how great his character is, they choose to forget what happened in Tampa Bay.
Schiano’s Buccaneers went 11-21 in his two last-place seasons in Tampa.
Worse than any of his teams’ performances on the field, Schiano was suspected by the NFLPA of leaking quarterback Josh Freeman’s drug test results. Freeman, who later went to rehab, and Schiano clashed often during their time in Tampa and Schiano was accused of rigging a team vote to strip Freeman of his captaincy and Freeman’s camp also voiced concern about the coach revealing Freeman was late to a team photo. Petty stuff. But by all means, send your sons to play for him in Knoxville.
The Schiano Era in Tampa was described as “pure misery.” He was known to treat players like children. He reportedly also treated assistant coaches the same way and once admonished a special teams coach for standing in the wrong place on the field during practice.
It wasn’t just his players. In his second NFL game, Schiano and former Giants coach Tom Coughlin got into it when Schiano had his defenders try to hit Eli Manning when the Giants were in victory formation and looking to kneel.
“You don’t do that in this league,” Coughlin said.
Schiano tried to do the same thing later that season against Peyton Manning.
Now, if Schiano was a better coach and had a better record, there is a very good chance the accusations in his past would have been ignored just like Manning’s past seems to get a pass in Tennessee because he is a legend. Schiano is far from being a legend, which is a big reason he will not be the Volunteers’ next coach.
Today, the reality is that it is up to Schiano to prove how much he did or not know about Sandusky. Tennessee is taking a beating this week, and the school earned every bit of it for the way it handled a regrettable situation.
But the fact is, Schiano’s coaching record in college and the pros, and the way he’s carried himself as a head coach before, rather than some flimsy and horrible-if-it’s-true, second-hand hearsay, is what should have disqualified him from the job.
And now that Schiano’s not coaching at Tennessee, he’s got plenty of time to try to clear his name.
Today, Schiano is guilty in the court of public opinion.
Because right here, right now, that court’s decisions can be just as damaging as those handed down in actual courts of law.