FOXBORO, Mass. — Greg Schiano just couldn't say no to the NFL.

FOXBORO, Mass. — Greg Schiano just couldn't say no to the NFL.

The Rutgers football coach signed a five-year deal on Thursday to be the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It will be Schiano's first NFL head coaching job.

Negotiations between the two parties picked up steam once Tampa Bay's first choice, Oregon coach Chip Kelly, withdrew his name from consideration Monday. And the sudden news of Schiano's departure stunned his former players and put Rutgers in a bind less than a week before national signing day.

"Really? Not going to lie I am a little bit shocked right now," former Scarlet Knight Eric LeGrand tweeted.

Schiano, who went 68-67 with six bowl appearances in his 11 years at Rutgers, will replace Raheem Morris, who led the Bucs to a 4-12 record, including 10 straight losses to end the season.

Former Rutgers star Devin McCourty, one of four former Scarlet Knights on the Patriots' roster, called Schiano a "great coach," adding: "I'm not surprised that he was offered the opportunity. I think he'll do a great job."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a close friend of Schiano's, credited the former Rutgers coach for constantly churning out "NFL-ready" athletes.

"He's done a great job at Rutgers," said Belichick, whose son, Stephen, plays lacrosse at Rutgers. "I think he's a tremendous coach, he's done a great job with that program and his players have been very NFL-ready. Guys that come out of that program, when they get to the NFL, I say most of them make it ... They have enough talent to really compete in the NFL and most of them end up staying in one way or another. And that's a credit to the preparation and the program that he's built there."

Schiano, who earned $2.35 million a year at Rutgers, had put together one of the best recruiting classes in school history — ranked No. 32 by Rivals.com — for next season.

Schiano, 45, reportedly canceled a trip to attend the public memorial service of his mentor, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, to complete negotiations on his deal with Tampa Bay.