They came to play for Rutgers, but more than that, they came to play for Greg Schiano.
Most every player would tell you that. So imagine the emotions in the team meeting room Thursday afternoon when Schiano had to tell his players he was leaving for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
“I could see how much he cared because he was crying and a lot of guys were crying. It was emotional," cornerback Brandon Jones said.
Linebacker Khaseem Greene added: "He had to walk into 100-plus of his sons and tell them the news that we never want to hear. It was hard for coach, but like I said, guys understand. It was really emotional for him and you could tell this is not something where he just ran for the money. We know sincerely that coach wanted to be here and his heart is here. He just had a better opportunity."
How tough was it to hear that Schiano was leaving?
"It’s tough for anybody to lose a great guy like Coach Schiano, but the best thing about it is that we don’t really lose him," Greene said. "He told us that his number is going to be the same. If we ever need him for anything, don’t hesitate to call. Nothing is changing, just coach had an opportunity and he took it. We are all happy for him, as bittersweet as it is, we are happy for him. It is good to have a coach that we have played for in the NFL. For guys who may have a future in the NFL, just networking. Like I said it is a bittersweet thing."
So what did Schiano tell the team?
“He got into how much he loved us and how difficult a decision it was," Jones said. "I know he loves us, you could see it on our faces when he was talking to us. I know it was tough decision for him, but I am sure it was the best decision for his family. Leaving here, he knows what he left is going to last a long time. He did what he needed to do for this program and I love him for that.”
Greene said this team will stay together no matter who takes over for Schiano.
"Once a coach is named, we build those relationships through meetings," Greene said. "Talking to him. Getting to know him. Coach Schiano built something special here and he put some characteristics into us that nobody can take away from us and nobody can change about us. We are still going to be the class of college football and we are still going to play hard, play within the lines of the game. We are still going to be the best academically and that is just something that we pride ourselves on doing. We won’t lose anything there.”