Greg Schiano could be returning Rutgers after all.
A source close to the New Jersey university, the coach and insiders in the football program, told The Associated Press on Wednesday night there is now optimism an agreement can be reached. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was not authorized for public release.
“I think there is a chance of getting it done,” the source said, adding no talks have taken place since the university announced Sunday a four-year, $32 million deal to bring back Schiano had fallen apart.
There was a wave of criticism from boosters, fans and former players, who felt Schiano was the right man to revive the program for a second time. He was the coach from 2001-11 and led the Scarlet Knights to post-season bowl berths in six of his final seven seasons.
Athletic director Pat Hobbs has refused to comment on the search to replace Chris Ash since he was fired in late September. Nunzio Campanile has served as the interim coach for the last six games (1-6). The Scarlet Knights (2-9, 0-8 Big Ten) finish the season Saturday at No. 12 Penn State.
Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed playing for Rutgers in a game against Army in 2010, was optimistic about Schiano’s return in a tweet on Wednesday.
“I know that the Rutgers community is hurting right now over what happened with Greg Schiano this week, but I still believe that he will walk onto that football field next year as our head coach,” LeGrand wrote. “I believe that people will come to their senses and make that happen after our reunion with Coach got derailed for reasons none of us can understand.”
LeGrand said he has spoken with Schiano and he is certain the coach is committed to Rutgers. He said the 53-year-old had a plan to rebuild the football program, which has posted a 7-44 record since joining the Big Ten Conference, including the last 20.
A New Jersey native, Schiano was an outstanding recruiter, whose reach extended to couple of key counties in Florida.
Schiano’s representative, Jimmy Sexton, did not immediately return a telephone call Wednesday from The AP seeking comment.
The blame for the breakdown in talks has fallen mostly on Hobbs and Greg Brown, a booster and one of the leaders on the board of governors.
After the contract talks broke down sophomore quarterback Art Sitkowski, who decided to redshirt his sophomore season after Ash was fired, reportedly entered the transfer portal Monday. Other players are expected to follow.