SPRINGFIELD, NJ — When Rutgers University announced they were going back to the future with the re-hiring of former head coach Greg Schiano, there were few people more pleased than the Cioffi family.
Anthony Cioffi, who currently plays for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League (CFL) was a stand-out defensive back during his four years playing in Piscataway, although he did not play under Schiano during his first tenure.
As a result of his commitment to Rutgers, the Cioffi family, including his Father Jerry, Mom Josephine and Uncle Joey, along with a gaggle of other relatives threw their support behind the scarlet and white.
"We always do stuff for Rutgers [and] the Big Ten Network when they come through," Joey Cioffi said in a phone interview. "Gerry DiNardo specifically requests us to bring antipasto platters and pizza.He's very Italian and with the Big Ten Network doing [mostly] Midwest stuff, he always gets excited [to have our food]."
Being in the restaurant business and having the family ties to boot, the Cioffis make regular food runs up to the coaches in the football program.
"So we reached out to the secretary," Cioffi said. "Anthony still has a relationship with them, and we said that we wanted to welcome Schiano back with a nice Italian meal. And of course he was very excited."
Among the items for Schiano's return meal were mozzarella, roasted peppers, chicken, sandwiches with broccoli rabe, penne vodka and to top it all off, a garlic-crusted pepperoni pizza off the secret menu.
When it comes to the direction of the program under Schiano, Joey, an alumnus of the Monmouth University Football team joked that he was not excited for week one of next season when his two rooting interests clash on the gridiron, which he let Schiano know.
"I go, 'will you please take it easy on my Hawks, it's the first time we're coming to Piscataway,'" he said with a laugh.
"But ultimately, the electricity in the building is real," Cioffi said. "What he has already done in the span of like a month or so is already [key]."
And as for what the future of food runs up to the coaches hold, Cioffi said that the would continue to link food and football the only way they know how.
"We like to keep it Jersey," Cioffi said. "And a part of Jersey's culture is great food. They can make fun of us all they want, but you know that we've got some great people and some great food."