Must-read piece up over at the Daily Orange from Brett LoGiurato on the other side of the 28 players who left the Syracuse football team since Doug Marrone took over.
I'm as guilty as the rest in automatically assuming that when a player left the team it was because they couldn't hack it, or they up and quit or some other easily-explainable reason. As the article shows, that might not be the case (or perhaps it proves it?).
Brett breaks down the tale of Lamar Middleton, former Orange DT, who apparently was kicked off the team over a complete misunderstanding. Middleton explains how, after missing a morning meeting with a stomach bug and then later missing questionably missing a curfew the night of a concert, he was kicked off the team the next day no questions asked. He wasn't even allowed to speak or ready a letter he prepared later on. He lost his scholarship and promptly left school, much to his own embarrassment and confusion.
At face value, when looking at the story in black and white, that's pretty crappy. But like most things in life, there's some gray mixed in there. Middleton claims that Marrone was under the assumption he was an alcoholic and put Middleton in counseling. Middleton says this misunderstanding comes from a time when Lamar told Doug he had drank a Long Island Iced Tea.
Hold on here...Middleton tells Doug Marrone that he had one mixed drink and Marrone is so deluded as to think Lamar is an alcoholic and needs professional counseling?
No. Sorry. Not buying that.
Doug Marrone might not be "hip" or "with it" or know "what the kids do these days" but he's not a moron. He was a college kid too. I'm sure he's drank plenty of LIITs in his day and knows the difference between someone who drinks one and someone who drinks fifteen. Not that I'm saying Middleton was indeed an alcoholic, but....there just has to be more to that story. There just has to.
Some of the other former players commented on Marrone's policies and the reasons they left as well and their answers range from confusing to "well what did you expect?"
JohnMark Henderson, who spent a whopping four months with the program, quit because practice was too tough and he didn't like the idea of being asked to cut his facial hair.
Mike Jones says he left the team "because he wasn’t happy with where he was headed academically at Syracuse." Alright. Jones also shares the Doug Marrone mantra that has become abundantly clear:
"There’s no bullshit allowed."
Donte Davis, who was a senior this past season, sums up what I think is the entire point of all this in one fell swoop:
"I mean, I think he didn’t have to go that far," Davis adds. "But then again, I was seeing what he was trying to do. Because coming off (Robinson), we got away with a lot of things. (Marrone) was just a stickler on doing the little things right."
Maybe Doug Marrone is unfair, maybe not. But the real problem for a lot of the players seems to be that the pendulum swung so far in a different direction than what they were used to that it must have felt like a death camp. Had many of them come to Syracuse with the understanding of how it would be, it might have been different. Expectations being what they were under Greg Robinson influences the way many players see Doug Marrone, I'm sure of it.
If the article feels one-sided, well, it probably should. The side effect of "not discussing players no longer on the team" is that Doug Marrone will never speak up about "his side" on the matter. So, we're left to take what the players tell us happened and figure it out from there. Ironically, Marrone does share one tidbit about his time as a player at SU and how he resented Coach Mac's style every so often.
"When I was a player here, there were a lot of things Coach Mac did that I did not agree with," Marrone said. "And all of a sudden, when I left college and went along in my career and became married and had children, I’m always calling Coach Mac and I’m always saying, ‘Hey, I get it now. Thank you.’"