December 12, 2008

Doug Marrone to the Cuse

First of all, congrats to Doug Marrone on getting the Syracuse job. It sounds like he really wanted the job, so I hope he works out up there. On the positive side, he's got the pedigree with a solid background in college and the pros. He has worked under guys like Phil Fulmer and Jim Donnan and Sean Payton. Not exactly Woody Hayes and Lou Holtz, but not a bad resume. He seems to have a good reputation as a recruiter, and it sounds like he had a real shot at getting the Tennessee job earlier in the year. Plus, it can't hurt that he's an alum who really wanted the job. And it's always good to see a fellow "Doug" out there making a name for himself.

On the other hand, Syracuse just hired yet another coach with no head coaching experience!! Holy cow, that is a YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE risk. An NFL assistant who hasn't been involved in the college game for like 15 years, and hasn't recruited the East Coast in his entire career. Can you say Gregg Robinson Part Deux?? I know Marron played at Syracuse, but you are talking about the mid-80s. It's an entirely different world. I'm not going to pretend to know a thing about Marrone, so maybe he's going to be the real deal and win big at Syracuse. But it seems like Syracuse hired this guy as a last resort because they couldn't lure anyone better to the job. If Marrone works out, it will be because of blind luck.

I feel like I've been ragging on this guy for awhile on this blog now, but this hire seems like another potential Darryl Gross disaster. How does he still have a job as an athletic director??

Darryl Gross had well over a year to get this search done and find the right guy. Heck, he's had 2 years, maybe even three, since anyone with any knowledge of the Syracuse program (even an outsider like me) could see that Gregg Robinson was an absolute disaster who would eventually be fired.

You've got BOILING hot young head coaches like Skip Holtz, Turner Gill, and Al Golden sniffing around your job, and yet you can't land one of them?? How is that even possible?? The Syracuse job is a good job. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the 2-3 best jobs in the Big East. Syracuse has tradition, and they have the fan support to sustain a winner in the Big East. For a guy like Al Golden, the Syracuse job would have been perfect. He's already got all kinds of recruiting pipelines set up in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, etc. Those are the kind of kids that Syracuse needs to get. Golden could have significantly upgraded that program in terms of talent and prestige. A good athletic director could have sold him on that vision and convinced him that Syracuse was a sleeper program that could elevate his stature to a new level.

Skip Holtz speaks for himself. He's already had success at two different places, and he's Lou freaking Holtz's son. Maybe Skip Holtz wouldn't have stayed at Syracuse for 15 years, but he would have won there and restored their program. And if he leaves, big deal. He'll make the job attractive for the next guy.

If it comes out that Syracuse didn't pursue Turner Gill, Darryl Gross should offer his letter of resignation immediately for failing to land him. That guy just won the MAC at Buffalo. BUFFALO!! I honestly didn't even know they had a D-I football program. Gill has built ties in the New York recruiting areas, so he seems like he would have been a natural fit at Syracuse. I don't know, maybe he wasn't interested.

I sort of get the impression that Darryl Gross was afraid of hiring an "up and comer" out of fear that he would eventually leave for a bigger job someday. Man, that is a really dumb way to approach your coaching search as an athletic director. You gotta shoot for the moon and get the best guy even if it's possible that he might leave someday. It's worth it to have a great coach for 4-5 years over a mediocre coach for a decade. And if you have a good athletic director, you can be confident that you'll continue to make good hires to keep the program strong. Xavier basketball is the perfect example. They went from Gillen to Skip Prosser to Thad Matta to Sean Miller, and the program is stronger than ever. It stunk to see Thad Matta leave for Ohio State, but he did enough good things at Xavier (good recruiting, took the team to the Elite Eight, etc) that he left the program in better shape than when he started. Because the program is stronger, it makes the job more attractive for future candidates.

Cincinnati football is also a good example. They hired Dantonio knowing that he'd probably someday try to get a Big 10 job, but Dantonio made that program better and laid the foundation for them to get Brian Kelly. Cincinnati football is and always will be a steppingstone job, but it doesn't mean that it can't be a good program or an attractive job for "up and comer" young coaches.

A school like Syracuse is always going to be in the second-tier of college football programs. They are in the Big East with a 35,000 seat stadium in a bad recruiting region. If Syracuse has a great head coach, there's always a chance that he might leave for a bigger school. But it's absolutely crazy to flinch from taking a great young coach because you are afraid he might leave.

I think that's what happened here. Syracuse went for an alum who "really wanted the job" (where have we heard that before?) instead of going for a proven young head coach who may have left after having some success at Syracuse.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Marron works out at Syracuse. I don't know anything about him, and maybe Darryl Gross really believes that he is going to be a star at Syracuse. I hope he turns them into a consistent Big East winner, recruits well, and restores the luster of Syracuse football. I just think Syracuse is taking a huge leap of faith here. They needed a sure thing (or at least a guy with some track record of success as a head coach in college), and Marrone is far from it.

--- As for the Heisman Award this weekend, put me down for a vote for Timmy Tebow. He won the SEC, it's the toughest conference in football with the toughest defenses, he makes plays, he's the best leader in all of college football, and I'll admit to having a soft spot for his missionary work and all that. I was having a tough time making up my mind until watching that segment on Tebow's missionary work last night on the College Football Awards show. I have to say it was a little dusty in the Riddell household! Guess I'm just a sucker for Tebow and the Tebow family!

Of the three frontrunners, I'd say the one I'm least intrigued by is Sam Bradford. Nothing against the guy (all three of them seem like real good guys and I'm amazed that Bradford is a scratch golfer) and he has put up the best stats, but I guess I'm just tired of seeing system OU qbs winning the Heisman. Josh Heupel, Jason White....blah blah blah. Oklahoma has become the new Houston Cougars with the run n shoot Andre Ware/David Klingler (that name is still a curse word among Bengal fans) offense against these paper defenses of the Big 12. Bradford goes back to throw and there are 4 guys wide open for him to choose from. The Big 12 is like backyard football these days. I think Bradford has had a great year obviously, but I think there are a lot of QBs who could put up huge stats in that offense.

I'd probably put Colt McCoy as my #2 because he carries that team. Texas' offense is completely built around McCoy making plays for them, so it seems like he has done more with less this year (although what does it say about Texas that they have "less" than OU when Texas gets the best recruits out of Texas every year while OU gets the Sean Avery-style "sloppy seconds"??? Bob Stoops is one heckuva coach.)

Doesn't matter though. I'm still voting Tebow. He is the only "Superman" in college football these days, and that's why I think he should win it.
But knowing how these Heisman voters think, Sam Bradford will eek it out to win the Heisman and then throw 4 picks in the Orange Bowl. Just go ahead and mark that down.

---Finally, continuing with the theme of Syracuse sports, I have to laugh at Jim Boeheim's defense of Eric Devendorf after Devendorf was suspended for the year for hitting a woman in the face at a party. Boeheim thinks the suspension is too harsh.

Yo Jim, your point guard HIT A WOMAN IN THE FACE!! He's lucky he didn't get charged with felonious assault. That doesn't constitute a year suspension?? Really??

I have always been a fan of Jimmy Boeheim, but there's no reason to defend Eric Devendorf here. Devendorf is a punk, and the Cuse are better off without him if you ask me.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Gross is a disaster. Rather than hire one of the more proven coaches at a "mid-major" or "low-major" level, such as the names you mentioned or even Bill Cubit (WMU), Todd Graham (Tulsa) or Brady Hoke, he instead gave the position to an NFL coordinator with no head coaching experience. In addition, Marrone is basically just running Sean Payton's offense, so it's not like Marrone has shown that he is an innovator. The Saints can't run worth a damn either.

Of course, I hope Marrone succeeds and it's not like he's necessarily doomed to fail because he has no experience at head coach. There are plenty of drawbacks with Syracuse, such as the current talent level, a weak local recruiting base and the facilities, but SU still has a greater tradition than any school in the Big East except maybe WVU. Given the downtrodden state of the Big East, Syracuse should be contending for league titles on an annual basis. Finally, since Gross inherited a program that was mediocre under Paul Pasqualoni, he better not get any credit for restoring the program back to mediocre. In any event, Marrone has a tall task in front of him. The current roster needs an overhaul and SU only has five commitments for this year's class. That type of recruiting effort makes Ty look like Pete Carroll.

Finally, don't even get me started on Devendorf. He should get booted from school and Boeheim should not let him play while his appeal is pending. Devendorf was already on probation and the evidence strongly suggests that he did, in fact, hit this girl in the face. Send him back to Detroit where he can get back to work in the meth lab with Eminem and Sam McGuffie.