Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti said that although he "absolutely" tried to talk head football coach Greg Schiano into staying at Rutgers, he believes the Scarlet Knight empire will live on without its king.
"This thing that has been built is bigger than one individual," Pernetti said at a Thursday press conference.
It was announced Thursday morning that Schiano was leaving Rutgers to accept his first NFL head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Schiano, 45, has been the head football coach at Rutgers for the past 11 years, taking a low performing team and bringing home five bowl wins and a number of winning seasons.
Pernetti, who said he was a longtime friend and contemporary of Schiano's, said he learned about a week ago about the job offer. He said he tried to talk Schiano out of leaving, but understands why the job was appealing.
"The NFL is to some extent the pinnacle of football coaching, and that had to be an appealing thing to Greg," he said.
Pernetti has appointed defensive line coach Kyle Flood as interim head coach until a replacement can be found, a move that Pernetti said he has absolute faith in because of Flood's time at the University and his relationship with the players and with recruiting.
"(It was an) obvious choice to me to put him in the role," he said.
When asked how long it would take to get a new head coach into Schiano's shoes, Pernetti said the athletics department did not want to rush the process, but believe that someone could be in place by National Signing Day, Feb. 1
He did not comment on whether there were any leads in place or anyone currently in negotiations for the job, just that the department has been doing "outreach."
A major question to be answered is what Schiano's departure will do in terms of recruiting new players to Rutgers, some of which, one reporter pointed out may be "devastated" that the person who recruited them is leaving.
"We're going to see," Pernetti said. "The one thing I know about our coaches recruiting…is that these people believe in the place, love the place and can sell the place."
Pernetti said that Schiano would be introduced as the new coach of the Buccaneers on Friday.