Greg Robinson (remember that guy?) came to Syracuse without much of an understanding what the program was all about and where it had come from. Greg just wanted A job, he didn't care where, so he had no real attachment to our history and traditions.
But Doug Marrone...Marrone didn't want A job, he wanted THIS job. And he wanted it for a very specific purpose. He cares very much about the state of Syracuse football. He cares because he knows where it's been and what it once was. And even if it doesn't put anything in the win column, it's that understanding of Syracuse football that is so evident even after only one day on the job.
Spring practice began yesterday and many an old tradition, discontinued by Greg Robinson or even before him, were resurrected.
First, Marrone brought back the green, red and white practice jerseys, a tradition Coach Mac used to use:
"You know what happens is, when you come back to your alma mater, and there was such great tradition of what's gone on, and to be able to bring some things back that inspired myself as a player and others that were after me, it just gives us a chance to bring back the red and green jerseys," Marrone said. "As we all know, green means go and red means stop. So the offense is wearing green. The defense is wearing red. And the people with the white jerseys, you don't touch them."
On the motivational side, Marrone also brought back the tradition of burning practice cleats from the previous season as a way of cleansing the bad mojo left behind. Even on day one, Doug Marrone is scorching Earth:
"It was something instilled in me as a player, a tradition that Coach Mac had brought here, but it really started way back early on in the 30s from people that have coached here," Marrone said. "We were excited to bring it back. It's a tremendous tradition, at least I was a part of, and a lot of people were after Coach Mac and later on through Coach Pasqualoni. It hasn't been done in while and I wanted to make sure we brought it back because it was important to me."
Speaking of things that were once old but new again, some familiar faces missing last season also took their place on the practice field. Chief among them, wide receiver Mike Williams. Once destined to break every record in the SU history books, Williams just wants to get his groove back. For the moment, he's just happy to be back on the field:
Mike Williams looked sharp. He was almost at a loss for words after practice in describing how happy he was to be back with the team. As you’d expect, Williams is a cut above any other receiver on the team. Though he dropped a slant pass in 7-on-7, Williams caught almost everything thrown his way in the other drills. It’ll be interesting to see which quarterback he meshes best with as game-situation offense picks up.
As for how the players feel about the change in coaching staff and change in regime, they're warming up to the Doug Marrone Era very quickly. Cam Dantley sums up what's the big difference so far between staffs:
"A lot of discipline, and I can tell it has been good for us. At first, you can tell people weren’t sure. It was different for them. Last year we maybe could get away with things that maybe we can’t get away with this year."
Imagine that.. Also loved this comment from Delone Carter:
"The coaching staff is incredible, they’re perfectionists. It’s being run professionally and in a business-like manner.”
Makes you wonder what the hell was going on behind the scenes last year. Then again, best not to. Delone also speaks to what it's like playing for Marrone so far:
“He’s a very professional man, so when you first meet him you're a little tense, but you have to relax and realize, he’s just a man, and he’ll let you know that."
HE'S A MAN! HE'S FORTY-FIVE!
Marrone still wants to bring back one more tradition, the watch tower so he can see all the action from high above. He was late in getting that request in so it's still en route. In the meantime, Doug seems to have everything he needs to get started.