SYRACUSE, NY - All 69 Syracuse University football players quit the Orange football team this morning, head coach Doug Marrone said.
One by one, each player lined up outside Marrone's office and said he was leaving the program immediately.
"We're going to have to take a look at the depth chart and do some finagling but from an opportunity standpoint, this is a chance for some new guys to step up," said Marrone on Wednesday. "I don't know who those guys are yet, but I'm hoping to identify them soon."
Over 20 players left the football in 2009 and that trend has slowly continued in the off-season and beginning of spring practice with the loss of RB/WR Mike Jones. No one, however, foresaw this mass exodus. For his part, Marrone remains upbeat.
"There's no one individual including myself that's more important than the program. Even if you added up all of the individuals that make up the program and combined them, the program is still more important. Program is greater than or equal to all individuals. If 100 individuals were on a train heading West at 90 MPH and one program was heading East at 50 MPH on the same track, the program would win."
When asked about his thoughts over abruptly losing star players such as quarterback Ryan Nassib, running back Delone Carter and linebacker Derrell Smith, Marrone refused to comment, citing team rules.
"I'm not going to discuss players who are no longer with the team. I only talk about players currently on team."
When pressed about the fact that he no longer has any current players, Marrone stood his ground.
"I feel good. I feel good about the players that we have. I can't control the numbers."
When seriously pressed about the fact that his numbers were zero, Marrone continued to stand behind the program.
"From the standpoint of playability, we have a lot playing time available . It all comes down to who wants it. It also comes down to who is available, eligible, interested and fully matriculated at Syracuse University."
Marrone says he expects to hold open tryouts shortly to fill the many gaps in the roster. He says that although he wants players who can come in and play right away, he is also thinking about adding one more requirement to the mix.
"Buyout clauses," added Marrone. "As in, your letter of intent comes with a $500K buy-out if you decide to quit the team. Let's see how many of these little (expletive) decide to jump ship on me after that."
In related news, Hampton University welcomed 69 new players to it's team today. Updates as they come in.