The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finalized a five-year deal to hire Rutgers coach Greg Schiano as their new head coach.
The 45-year-old former Scarlet Knights coach was hired Thursday, more than three weeks after the Bucs fired Raheem Morris following a 4-12 record.
"We are thrilled to introduce Coach Schiano as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a statement. "During our thorough search, we met with numerous impressive candidates, but Coach Schiano surely distinguished himself. From his leadership skills to his impressive track record, he is, simply put, the right man for the job."
At Rutgers, athletic director Tim Pernetti has appointed offensive line coach Kyle Flood as the school's interim head coach. Pernetti reiterated that getting a new coach in place by signing day Wednesday was doable, but he wants to do his due diligence as well.
FIUs Mario Cristobal and Temple's Steve Addazio are among the coaches that Rutgers will consider to replace Greg Schiano, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.
"It's one of those hurry-up but don't rush deals," Pernetti said at a Thursday afternoon news conference at Rutgers. "This is a long-term decision, this is something that's going to affect the long-term program and we want to make sure we get it right."
This is a pivotal time in the recruiting process, with coaches locking up commitments from high school prospects who make those agreements official by signing national letters of intent starting Wednesday.
The Buccaneers said Schiano would be formally introduced at a news conference Friday.
"Coach Schiano is a bright, meticulous teacher who knows how to get the most out of his players," said Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said in the statement. "He built and ran a pro-style program at Rutgers, and he's a defensive-minded coach whose teams have always been characterized by toughness and a physical style of play."
Schiano was intrigued by the challenge of coaching in the NFL and also was concerned about the perceived uncertainty of the future direction of the Big East Conference, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.
The two sides met Wednesday for the second time and then spent some of the night into Thursday morning working out the contract.
Mike Sherman, the other candidate to get a second interview with the Bucs, is in Miami this morning visiting with the Dolphins about their offensive coordinator job, according to a source.
Schiano has previous NFL experience as an assistant coach with Chicago from 1996 to '98.
He played linebacker at Bucknell but never in the NFL. His first big break in coaching came at Penn State, where Joe Paterno hired him to coach defensive backs in 1991. He was at Penn State through 1995, before being hired by the Bears.
Because of his success at Rutgers, there had often been speculation for years about Schiano possibly replacing Paterno when the Hall of Famer was done coaching. But when Penn State was looking for a replacement after firing Paterno amid a child sex-abuse scandal involving former longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, the school hired Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
Schiano has been courted by several other colleges during his time at Rutgers, most notably Miami in 2006 and Michigan in 2007.
"I've had several opportunities over the years and none of them felt right," Schiano told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., as he left Rutgers' football facility Thursday night. "This time, this one felt right."
"Congrats to coach @GregSchiano the Bucs are getting a great man and a great coach. #salute," he wrote. Rice is scheduled to be a free agent but has said he expects to be back with the Ravens.
Eric LeGrand, who suffered a spinal injury in 2010 but has continued to be a constant around the Rutgers program, tweeted his surprise at the news.
"Really? Not going to lie I am a little bit shocked right now," he wrote.
"He's a great coach, so I'm not surprised that he was offered the opportunity," McCourty said. "I think he'll do a great job."
Schiano is an under-the-radar coach, but Tampa Bay has been eyeing him throughout this process. Buccaneers college scout Bill Rees made contact with Schiano at the outset of Tampa Bay's coaching search, and the two men stayed in contact.
The Glazer family also conducted a massive amount of research, reaching out to various NFL people. One of the people they called was Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who spoke highly of Schiano.
Belichick on Thursday praised Schiano.
"I think he is a tremendous coach that's done a great job with that program. And his players have been very NFL-ready. Guys that come out of that program, when they get to the NFL, most of them make it. It may not be first-round picks or whatever but if they have enough talent to really compete in the NFL most of them end up staying in one way or another and I think that's a credit to the preparation and the program that he's built there," Belichick said, according to the Buccaneers in their statement.
Before hiring Schiano, Tampa Bay talked with Oregon head coach Chip Kelly but those talks collapsed early Monday.
The Bucs also talked to former NFL head coaches Brad Childress and Marty Schottenheimer; Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski; Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray; Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer; Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements; and former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who accepted the head coaching opening with the Dolphins.
An 11th known candidate, ex-Dallas Cowboys coach and current Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, canceled a scheduled interview with the Bucs that would have taken place while the Texans were in the playoffs.
This is not the first time Tampa Bay didn't land its first choice. In 1996, after the Buccaneers fired Sam Wyche, they tried to hire Bill Parcells and Steve Spurrier before hiring Tony Dungy.
In 2002, after firing Dungy, they tried to hire Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci before trading for Jon Gruden.
Now, they have hired Schiano, who has a 49-28 record at Rutgers since 2006. Schiano is said to have impressed the Bucs in the two interviews he had -- one in Dallas a couple of weeks ago, another as recently as Wednesday morning.
Schiano's contract with Rutgers was scheduled to run through 2016 and paid him around $2.35 million per year.
Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider. Information from ESPN.com Big East blogger Andrea Adelson, ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.