I wish Doug Marrone hadn’t come so Syracuse.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some HCDM. Well, I mean, I don’t love him, but I will admit to a semi-serious man crush on him. How to I love him? Let me count the ways.
I love that he takes his job of molder of young men just as seriously as he does his job of coacher of football players. It’s trite and cliché, I know, but it’s an underrated aspect of college coaching. Coaches are responsible to putting the final touches on the years when kids turn in to the adults they are going to be. Marrone understands this and takes it just as seriously as his game planning or halftime adjustments. When Marcus Sales was pulled over with his brother, no license and a crapload of drugs, it would have been easy to dismiss him immediately. When none of the charges save the license stuck, it would have been just as easy for Marrone to throw some weight around and have Sales be eligible to play. He did neither. He did what was best for Sales the man, not Sales the football player. A year off to get his head straight and realize that football was his path away from Syracuse. And it’s paid dividends.
I love that Marrone is recruiting talent from high school, the JUCO system and even other FBS schools. Sure, he’s not getting the certified studs in the numbers that the likes of Alabama or USC get them, but the level of talent coming to SU is rising. Where once guys would rather sit on the sideline for powers rather than come to Syracuse, now the opposite is happening (See: Funderburke, Quinta). Under Marrone, the JUCO pipeline is stronger than ever and, with the help of über recruiter Tyrone Wheatley, Syracuse has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough like Cam Lynch, Justin Pugh and Dontez Ford. Studs they might not be, but they’re the types of solid football players that are needed to win.
And I love the fact that Marrone is an alum. This is his dream job. He was there in 1984 when the Orange(men) shocked the #1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. All coaches work hard. All coaches want to win. But you get the feeling that Marrone would sacrifice a testicle for a W. Hell, at this point, he might even be willing to part with both. Every game means that much more to him because Syracuse football is more than his job. It’s an integral part of who he is. For me, that trumps a lot of other qualities other coaches might have.
Still, I wish Marrone hadn’t come.
Here’s what I wish had happened.
I wish that, when DOC Gross had finally realized that Greg Robinson era was a ginormous bust, he went out and got (read: bought) some hot-shot, up-and-coming turn around artist of a coach. A guy in the mold of Urban Myer who, some way, some how makes winning seem easy no matter where he goes. A guy who might go 3-9 in year one, but goes 10-2 in year three. A guy who sees the job at Syracuse as merely a stepping stone to a bigger name and a bigger contract. A guy who tells recruits that he’s in it for the long haul, then bails when he hears the cha-ching! of a fat SEC of NFL offer. A guy that wins games, but most of all gets recruits and churns out NFL players.
Meanwhile, I wish Doug Marrone, seeing his dream job occupied by a total douchebag, would have taken a head job as some podunk, backwater school. Maybe New Hampshire or Maine. Maybe Bowling Green. Hell, maybe even Villanova or Georgetown. Anywhere where he could have learned how to be a head coach without the added pressure of being tasked with turning his alma mater from doormat to at least respectable.
At such a place, he could learn how to not run your hurry up offense late in the game with a slim lead. He could learn that option reads require a certain kind of quarterback. He could learn what happens to your team when you punt at midfield on fourth-and-one in a close game against a superior opponent. While Doug Marrone might be a hell of a recruiter and game planner, he’s not a fantastic in-game coach. He’s almost like Syracuse’s very own Andy Reid…and not in a good way. He could have gone through eis growing pains and made mistakes to learn from in an environment where it doesn’t really matter. No one cares who wins the FCS title. No one cares if Bowling Green is any good or not. It would have been an ideal situation for Marrone to cut his coaching chops.
Then, when the up-and-coming hot-shot abandons Syracuse for the B1G or the Big XII, Marrone slides in having a few seasons as a head man under his belt already. There’s no on-the-job training. It’s pick it up and go. And he inherits a program that isn’t in complete shambles. The hot-shot coach leaves the cupboard fully stocked. All Marrone has to do is keep getting the groceries.
It’s not so much that I don’t want Doug Marrone at Syracuse. I really and truly do. The way he runs his program, I’d be perfectly satisfied with 5-7 wins a year and a piddling, no matter bowl game two out of every three. I just wish he hadn’t come at the time he did. It was a tough job for a man who might have jumped in a little over his head when the job of a lifetime was offered to him.