In his first seven months as Rutgers soccer coach, Greg Schiano built an announced recruiting class.
He recruited staff who quickly adapted to teaching through Webex meetings for players scattered around the world. He listened to leading experts about the dangers of the coronavirus, some of which come from the Rutgers School of Medicine, and the emotional reactions to social injustice.
“We have not lined up 11 players on offensive, defensive or kicking teams and we have played a play,” Schiano told The Post. “But we are not complaining. What we would install in one day if we were practicing, it took us a week to install. Hopefully, from a mental standpoint, players will have a deeper understanding. “
Coronavirus restrictions canceled most college football spring camps, a challenge for everyone, but especially first-year staff with new playbooks.
Rutgers University dorms are closed and classes moved online through August 14. Along with the direction of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, basketball teams could return to campus on June 22. Soccer could be sooner.
“We will do our best to do it as soon as we can, but certainly not at the cost of being insecure,” Schiano said. “You can’t swing and fail on this. There is no margin for error.”
The NCAA and Big Ten allowed athletes to resume individual volunteer workouts on campus earlier this week. Some schools are late. Therefore, coaches must accept that they cannot control what will not be a completely level playing field for the preparation of the season.
“I spend very little time thinking about it,” said Schiano. “How can we remedy our own situation and obtain the best achievements?”
With no field drills to lead, Schiano’s focus is on recruiting and developing powerful programs. He will attend an occasional position meeting, but much of the daily instruction is left to the attendees.
Players can receive up to eight hours per week of training, per NCAA rules. Strength and conditioning coaches can watch voluntary training at home, but most players don’t have home gyms like the pros. Eventually they will return to the new regulations.
“They will certainly be smaller meetings because you decrease the risk,” Schiano said. “We are in the middle of working out those details. Nothing is off the table, but nothing has been decided either. ”
Where Schiano has an advantage over other freshmen coaches is in recruiting.
The confidence established during Schiano’s first 11-year term with Rutgers, resulting in six bowl slots, and maintained after leaving in 2012 is seen in a 2021 class of 20 verbal engagements ranked No. 19 at the level national by 247Sports.com. About 10 former Rutgers coaches and players and two former New Jersey high school coaches returned to this staff.
There is a popular theory that the pandemic, quarantine, and travel restrictions will lead to more college recruits staying closer to home and more teams eliminating risks by prioritizing in the state. It remains to be seen, Schiano said, but the removal of useful summer camps to identify future recruits certainly emphasizes strong relationships in the backyard.
“These kids were 4 or 5 years old when we were winning big games around here,” Schiano said, “so it’s not in their wheelhouse.” Actually, what we are doing is being real: this is what we are. Then you get players who really want to be a part of that. “
The NCAA is considering a six-week extended training camp. Rutgers is slated to open Sept. 5 against Monmouth and plans an uninterrupted season.
“It gives your entire organization a goal that it’s working toward,” Schiano said. “If the date moves, then we will adjust. Until someone tells us that we will not open that weekend, we will open that weekend.”