Joe Susan

Bucknell football coach Joe Susan watches a play from the sidelines.

Joe Susan is returning to Rutgers, where he helped transform the Scarlett Knights into national prominence in his first tenure there more than a decade ago.

The former Bucknell head football coach was part of Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers from 2001 to 2009. Tuesday, he officially joined Schiano’s staff for the second time. Susan will be the special assistant to Schiano, who was hired at Rutgers in December to replace Chris Ash, who was fired during the 2019 season.

Susan was part of Schiano’s staff that had five consecutive bowl appearances and four bowl championships. The 2006 team was ranked as high as seventh in The Associated Press poll — the highest ranking in program history.

“I grew up 15 minutes from here and spent the majority of my coaching career here,” said Susan, who also coached for nine years at nearby Princeton. “There is a familiarity with the place, with the area. I feel comfortable here and all three of my children have settled within 45 minutes of here.”

Susan said his new role has yet to be defined. The fact that he and Schiano have a longstanding relationship — which dates back to Susan recruiting Schiano to Bucknell in the 1980s — will help them determine what the job will entail.

Susan said the special assistant’s role will cover a variety of responsibilities. He said he will be “heavily involved” in recruiting and player evaluations. During games, Susan said he will have more field related duties, “evaluating the way we do things,” he said.

“There is no defined blueprint,” he said.

Susan was Bucknell’s head coach from 2010 to 2018 and also as an assistant from 1981 through 1988. During his first tenure, he recruited Schiano to Bucknell, where Schiano served as a co-captain as a senior in 1987.

“Joe has a wealth of football knowledge and knows what it takes to build a program,” said Schiano. “He was an integral part of what we were able to build the first time around. To have Joe and his family back at Rutgers is a blessing and it is where he belongs.”

Susan served as special assistant to the director of athletics & recreation at Bucknell in 2019 after resigning as head football coach following the 2018 season. Two of his former Bison — Julién Davenport and Abdullah Anderson — are playing in the NFL. This past football season was the first since he graduated from Delaware in 1976 that Susan was not part of a coaching staff.

“It’s good to be back in a program,” he said. “Certainly, this past year was not the easiest thing with what I was doing away from the field. You don’t want to define yourself with your job, but it provided a sense of purpose. I am doing something that benefits the program and benefits the young men in our program.”

Rutgers has changed since Schiano and Susan’s first tenure there. The Scarlett Knights are now in the Big Ten, where it plays in the Eastern Division with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. The campus has also seen its fair share of change, Susan said.

“The facilities have gotten a lot better, the university has changed too since 2001,” he said. “The young men we are able to recruit here will be able to achieve from an academic and athletic standpoint. It is an exciting time to be around campus.”

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