Doug Marrone Versus Greg Robinson

By now, most of you ‘Cuse diehards have formed your own opinions of new football coach Doug Marrone, the former New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator. Whether you met him and his family around Syracuse or made a snap judgment based on his resume, you're most likely either wholeheartedly for him or one hundred percent against the latest hiring by Dr. Daryl Gross.

A majority of Orange fans seem to have taken a liking to the new hire, anxiously anticipating next season with a new-look offense. 

While those ‘in the know' have analyzed every single action Marrone has taken since arriving at Syracuse on Sunday (ready to go 100 mph, no less), it appears that national columnists haven't taken so well to SU's new coach.  Most notably, CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd ranks the Marrone hiring as the worst so far.  This, of course, because Marrone does share one striking similarity with Greg Robinson:  his previous experience is as an assistant coach in the NFL.  Both Robinson and Marrone encountered success (albeit, in different decades and on different sides of the ball).  However, the two have many differences which will ultimately separate their SU legacies.  While Robinson labored through a 10-37 record in his four years here, Marrone knows he's got lots of work to do, but only one end result in mind:

"We are not in a rebuilding process. We are in the process of rejuvenating this program.  I don't have any options. I cannot fail. I cannot fail. My option is only to win, and that's what I'm going to do."   

While these are grandiose fighting words from the new leader, just what does he have to back them up?  What can he do to ensure that he won't be the next Greggers?  How are these two people and their situations different?

To start with, Robinson was hired following a 6-6 (4-2) season in 2004.  This hiring was the first major move made by AD Daryl Gross.  While SU capped off that season with a 51-14 loss to Georgia Tech in the Champs' Sports Bowl, they still finished with a  .500 record, in the thick of the conference race.  This coming in a season where they played five ranked opponents and faced a Yellow Jackets team featuring Calvin Johnson, a tough assignment for anyone in a bowl game.  While Coach Pasqualoni had his supporters and detractors, the point is that there were two sides to the issue. 

You could've argued for Pasqualoni's head or you could've argued that Coach P needed to stay.  In this case, Robinson and Marrone are vastly different.  No one has even tried to construct a logical argument for why Robinson should stay.  G-Rob took a middling program (albeit, one on the decline) and turned it into one of college football's laughingstocks.  Robinson could have either performed CPR on the flailing football program or just put a pillow over its face.  Unfortunately, the latter happened.  With Marrone, there is but one direction to go:  up.  This situation can't possibly get worse. 

Another fundamental difference between the two lies in their upbringing.  Robinson was primarily a West Coast guy.  His primary stops were at the University of Texas, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs.  He was ill-suited to tackle the cold weather and Northeast, despite his assurances that it was ‘his dream job.'  Marrone, on the other hand, is an SU alum.  While he starred from 1983-5, the thing that stands out is that he came back to finish his degree in 1991.  This shows great character and is something you don't often see from athletes.  Marrone, a native of the Bronx, is not only familiar with the Northeast, but he also has coached there and established numerous recruiting ties.  The first of these vested itself just yesterday when Marrone named John Anselmo, formerly the head coach at Nassau Community College, to be SU's new secondary coach.

Marrone has already established a different persona and aura than his predecessor did around the football program.  Marrone's comments at his introductory press conference tell of a dedicated individual who has worked his whole life for this job.  Whether it's the many binders he compiled for his job interview with Gross or statements like this one, it's apparent that Marrone is a driven individual with the acumen and desire needed to produce a winner.

"For me to sit here and say, I need three years and I need this and that, I'm not going to say that. I was hired to win football games."

This statement contrasts sharply with Greg Robinson's resigned attitude at press conferences.  While he remained defiant to the end, even memorably quoting "The Little Train That Could" in one of his last meetings with the media, Robinson lacked the hell and brimstone fire that Marrone has already brought to the program.  Robinson was never able to bring the enthusiasm and optimism to the program, to anyone but himself that is.  Robinson often claimed that ‘no one really knew him as a person.'  That's true, but whose fault is that?  Marrone has already made himself more accessible to the public than Robinson seemingly did in his entire tenure.

Not only that but another of Robinson's ineptitudes reared its ugly head with alarming frequency this year.  That being, his inability to be a good personnel manager.  It manifested itself numerous times, whether it was Antwon Bailey's presence on the field in critical game situations early in the season or Robinson's staunch loyalty to QB Cameron Dantley.  While it's easy to second guess all of these decisions and wonder what might have been, Greg doesn't deserve that.  Mostly because he finally came out of his shell a bit this season.  Like the memorable post-game interview after the victory in South Bend that humanized him and established him as a ‘class act.'  Like the press conferences where he repeatedly asserted his belief in his team and his desire to re-apply for his job after he was just fired.  Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for G-Rob, leaving us to wonder what might have been for him and what might come to pass with under the new leadership of Doug Marrone.

Like America, Syracuse football now finds itself in a time of change and in this most crucial time, leaders will rise to the occasion.  Whether or not Marrone will be successful is anyone's guess.  In part, it depends how you define ‘successful.'  With low expectations around the program, the signs point toward Marrone experiencing at least some success.  Now that all the writers and pundits have shared their thoughts, we've only got one thing left to do:  sit back and enjoy the ride…because one thing is for sure.  Doug Marrone + the fast Dome playing surface = one exciting football team.

For those of you who wanted some off-the-wall statistics and reasoning to explain why the Doug Marrone hire will be either a raging success or epic fail, stay tuned for tomorrow's article.

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