They’re old college buddies. Not in the traditional sense — they didn’t go to school together share the same dorm room or rush the same fraternity — but college is where their friendship blossomed.

It was even some college kid who more or less brought them together.

Steve Belichick was attending Rutgers University on a lacrosse scholarship but wanted to play football too as a long snapper. Shortly after he got his shot his father started dropping by the campus to talk to his son’s new coach.

There was a connection there. And in a way Steve’s new football coach Greg Schiano and his father New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick really were frat brothers.

They had even crossed paths before back in the late 1990s. Schiano now the head coach of the Buccaneers spent a year as the Chicago Bears’ defensive backs coach when Belichick was the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

“Yeah I had known Bill’’ Schiano said. “But it really wasn’t until after his son came to Rutgers and started playing football there that he and I started to talk more and really got to know each other.”

Those coach-to-father talks quickly revealed that Schiano and Belichick who will face off tonight when the Bucs battle the Patriots in a preseason game at Gillette Stadium shared not only a vocation and expertise for defensive strategy but a philosophy.

Both are no-nonsense disciplinarians who believe structure and order are pillars of success. Both prefer a one-voice approach that limits access to assistant coaches by reporters. And both are relatively tight-lipped particularly about the status of injured players though Schiano has shown a greater willingness to be personable and engaging with the media than Belichick.

Beyond that the 61-year-old Belichick and 47-year-old Schiano share a mutual respect for one another as coaches and for what the other has achieved during his tenure on the sidelines.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Greg’’ Belichick said this week when the teams held combined practices in Foxborough. “I think he did a great job when he was at Chicago when he was at (the University of) Miami and during his whole career at Rutgers.

“He brought that program up and made it one of the top programs in the country. He took a program that wasn’t used to being at that level to national prominence on a consistent basis.’’

Belichick’s regard for what Schiano did during 11 years as the head coach of the Scarlet Knights is evident in his roster. He currently has nine Rutgers players on it one more than Schiano has on the Bucs roster.

Schiano’s level of respect for Belichick meanwhile goes far beyond the fact Belichick has taken the Patriots to five Super Bowls winning three and is a three-time Associated Press Coach of the Year.