If there are three coaches from the 2010 college football season that every fan is aware of, it's Auburn's Gene Chizik, Oregon's Chip Kelly an Stanford's Jim Harbaugh. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't say they were the top three coaches in the nation this season.
Doug Marrone spent the evening rubbing shoulders with that trio, as well as Michigan State's Mike Dantonio and others, at the American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year banquet in Dallas last night. Doug didn't come home with the hardware, Kelly did, but it would be tough to miss the factor that tied most of the honored coaches together.
Marrone, Kelly and Chizik just wrapped up year No. 2 with their respective teams. Two seasons in and they've already accomplished amazing things. Kelly and Chizik took their teams to the title game, Chizik got the win. Marrone may have "only" taken Syracuse to the Pinstripe Bowl, but you only need see where Syracuse has been to know what an accomplishment that is.
Things move way too fast in college football these days. Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, Nick Saban at Alabama, Urban Meyer at Florida, Les Miles at LSU, Dan Mullens at Mississippi State, Charlie Strong at Louisville...the speed at which some coaches are able to point things in the right direction is really impressive.
It also makes me laugh at Michigan fans' reaction to the hiring of Brady Hoke so far. Pretty sure that's the same way Auburn fans reacted to Chizik and some Syracuse fans even reacted to the hiring of Marrone. Give it time, Wolvie fans. And if he's anything like the guys listed above, it won't take that much.
As for Doug Marrone: Year Three, there's good news and then there's the unknown.
Head coach Doug Marrone says the 2011 team will be more gifted physically than the group that put together the Orange’s first winning season since 2001. Here is the caveat: He is unsure whether the increased athleticism will overcome increased inexperience to make SU a better football team.
"Feeling good about your kids athletically and having them be able to go out and perform as football players are totally different things," said Marrone on Monday night, taking a quick respite from a frenetic recruiting schedule before departing for Dallas and the annual American Football Coaches Association convention. "That is our challenge now. It is a big challenge but a fun challenge."
It's a snippet from a great, candid interview with Marrone and Dave Rahme, you should be reading it right now. Rahme also breaks down exactly what spots the Orange need to fill and how they'll go about it. And of course, just because it's the off-season that doesn't mean we can't get some classic Marrone-speak.
"From an athletic standpoint I feel very good about those players being able to compete."