Replacing a recruiting coordinator

Rutgers recruiting coordinator Joe Susan left for Bucknell’s head job today. Greg Schiano’s not worried about that affecting recruiting and he’s not quite sure he’ll even have a coach serving as recruiting coordinator going forward. Read on…

Greg Schiano didn’t want to underrate Joe Susan. But after 10 years, he sure wasn’t going to cop to any unease either. Even if he is losing his recruiting coordinator just one week before Signing Day.
“It will have no impact,” Schiano confidently said Wednesday, just hours after Susan accepted the head coaching position at Bucknell.

Susan’s departure ends a nine-season run alongside Schiano at Rutgers. He was one of only three remaining staffers from the start of Schiano’s reclamation project – strength coach Jay Butler and head trainer Dave McCune being the other two – and he was one of only three current Schiano assistants who grew up in New Jersey.

“Certainly Joe’s an integral part, just as all our coaches are, in recruiting,” Schiano said. “It is late in recruiting. But the guys that Joe is directly recruiting we’ve had great relationships with, they’re strong and they (chose) Rutgers. Joe just happened to recruit them. I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

The bigger issue may be replacing Susan.

As a Bucknell assistant from 1981-90, it was Susan who recruited Schiano out of Ramapo to come play linebacker for the Bison. He put in nine years as Princeton’s offensive coordinator, finally got his shot as a head coach at Davidson, went 10-0 and was named Coach of the Year – and then immediately left for a shot to coach with Schiano.

“Greg and I had always talked about coaching together,” Susan said, just a few minutes after Schiano said he’d miss the man who once recruited him.

“When you work with someone for that long and you’ve know him as long as I have, there’s a lot of anticipation that occurs. There’s a familiarity,” Schiano said. “He’s a good friend as well as an assistant coach. He’s been a real good friend for me.”

Therefore replacing him, Schiano said, isn’t just a simple “one-for-one” proposition. He ultimately had to replace wide receivers coach Brian Jenkins – who left last month to become Bethune-Cookman’s head coach – twice after his first appointment returned to a previous job, and Schiano said the short list he created then is still fresh. Susan coached tight ends, but Schiano said he doesn’t necessarily look at position specialties when weighing coaches.

“It’s my belief, if you can coach, you can coach,” he said. “As long as we know what we’re teaching and secure in our scheme, our coaches, our coordinators and myself, we get them up to speed.”

Schiano said he may end up shifting current roles on his staff and he may in fact decide to forego naming an official recruiting coordinator at all. He said as long as he has the NCAA – maximum 10 coaches out visiting prospects, the coordinator position may be better handled by an administrator in the office.

“I’m always trying to look at the whole picture, not just look at it as a one for one replacement,” Schiano said. “I want to get the best person for Rutgers right now. Timing changes what your needs are in everything in life.”

Timing of course played a huge role in Susan’s decision. He said he worried, at 54, about waiting to return to head coaching and that after unsuccessfully throwing his name into the ring at Princeton a few weeks ago, his urgency increased.

“It’s hard to leave a place you’ve been at for 10 years,” he said. “I’ve lived in Princeton longer than I lived in my hometown.”

Where his kids were wary of leaving before, they’re all out of the nest now – his son is headed to law school, his one daughter just graduated from Rutgers and his youngest daughter is a freshman ice hockey player at Rutgers. And though Bucknell’s coming off three losing seasons and previous coach Tim Landis – who Susan ironically replaced at Davidson too – didn’t beat Lehigh or Lafayette in any of his seven seasons, Susan sees a lot of potential at Schiano’s alma mater.

“At this place we have a chance to be pretty good,” Susan said. “The administrators here are outstanding and there’s a lot of support.”

Leaving a BCS conference doesn’t bother him, he said, as his first coach told him, “Big time’s where you’re at.”
“The only difference in practice and preparation and getting ready for game day is that when you show up on game day,” he said, “the crowd’s a little bit different.”

It’s that attitude, and his long connections in the northeast that make Susan “perfect for the job,” Schiano said.
Now all Schiano has to do is find someone perfect for Susan’s old job.

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