Point Plank: The Rutgers Myth, and Why There’s No New Jersey Conspiracy with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By Leo Howell
Aug 3, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano talks to the players during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to another edition of Point Plank, where I point out my disagreement with another article about the Buccaneers found around the web. This edition comes as a reply to an article by our staff writer Ken, who posted this article about the “Rutgers connection” in Tampa Bay on Sunday morning.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Greg Schiano out of Rutgers, and he made his presence known almost instantly. Toes were on the line, kneel downs were no longer safe, and family was the focus for the once “yungry” Bucs. But as he has been allowed more time, there appears to have been an influx of Rutgers personnel to Tampa Bay.
The coaching staff does include a good amount of former RU coaches, but that speaks to Schiano’s loyalty more than anything else. If he believed his performances at Rutgers earned him an NFL job, then surely the assistants and coordinators under him merited the same chance. Like Ken stated in his article, I am not overly concerned about the coaching connections to Rutgers.
Jul 25, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gary Gibson (95) during training camp at One Buccaneer Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
But what about the players? Ken expressed a distrust or uneasiness about the fact that there are 10 former Scarlet Knights in camp with the team, but let’s take a look at who these guys actually are…
- Howard Barbieri – Not going to make the team at offensive tackle.
- Andrew DePaolo – Not going to make the team at long snapper.
- Gary Gibson – A smart addition to add veteran depth to the offensive line, regardless of where he went to college.
- Ka’lial Glaud – Very unlikely to make the team at linebacker.
- Brian Leonard – A smart addition to add veteran depth at running back, regardless of where he went to college.
- Mason Robinson – Not going to make the team at cornerback.
- Tiquan Underwood – Slipping down the depth chart at wide receiver, was purposefully replaced this offseason by Kevin Ogletree, who went to Virginia.
- Tim Wright – A project WR to TE conversion who looks unlikely to make the team.
- Jeremy Zuttah – A solid center who was already on the roster before Schiano arrived.
- Marvin Booker – A linebacker who was unlikely to make the roster anyways, and is injured.
So two smart additions, one decent addition, one guy who was already in town before Schiano was hired, and six guys who won’t make the roster. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about a Rutgers connection based on this information, as there’s a reasonable explanation for the legitimate RU players in camp with the Bucs.
Especially when you consider that Bill Belichick has nine players from Rutgers in his camp with the New England Patriots. There is an obvious level of respect from Belichick towards the players coached and recruited by Schiano, which is why there are six Rutgers rookies competing in Patriots’ camp. I know not everyone is in love with the Patriots as an organization, but they have plenty of talent, and that they’re willing to invite so many Scarlet Knights to camp shows that there’s legitimate NFL talent to be had out of New Jersey.
And while Chip Kelly might not have as many Oregon Ducks in camp, and Pete Carroll isn’t inviting his former Trojans into camp by the handful, both coaches have players they’re familiar with from their college days in the fold. A head coach is going to trust his own scouting ability, and these coaches got to watch many of the young players entering the NFL up close and personal as a head coach at the college level.
So yes, there’s a good amount of “Rutgers” on the Buccaneers’ roster. But there’s no grand conspiracy here. Greg Schiano is just trusting that the guys he knows are capable of working hard and competing in camp, and providing pressure on the incumbent starters and backups to work hard to keep their jobs.