On October 31st, 2009, Broncos' video director Steve Scarnecchia filmed a 49ers’ walk-through practice at Wembley Stadium in London. The fallout was swift. The Broncos were fined $50K, head coach Josh McDaniels was fined $50K and Scarnecchia was fired.
While Scarnecchia supposedly acted alone, it was widely reported that McDaniels not only signed off on the behavior, but encouraged it. It's probably a large part of why he was fired the following season.
It was also implied that McDaniels and Scarnecchia were part of a Patriots' staff that widely engaged in illegal filming of opponents' practice throughout New England's dynasty years.
So to say that Steve Scarnecchia has a bit of black mark on his record would be an understatement. In the NFL, you can do steroids and get a second chance. You can commit crimes and get a second chance. Hell, you can murder hundreds of dogs and get a second chance. But you can't film the other team's practices and get a second chance. That just wouldn't be fair.
And so, it was assumed by many that Scarnecchia would never get a gig in football again. Those people must have been surprised to hear that Scarnecchia is now a member of the Syracuse Football coaching staff.
He hasn't even been on the job a week and some folks are already extremely wary of Scarnecchia's presence, especially given all of the NCAA violations flying around the country right now.
I am all for giving second chances, but I am not quite sure about this decision. On the one hand, you have to figure that Scarnecchia will be on his best behavior because if he violates rules, not only would he never get another job again, but he has the potential to get Syracuse into trouble.
It's a fair point, given the information we have available.
That said, I have to believe Scarnecchia is going to keep his nose clean this time around, especially when it comes to these kinds of shenanigans. I've got three reasons why...
1. All Eyes On Him - Nobody really pays attention to video coordinators. I couldn't tell you who our old video coordinator was and I couldn't tell you the names of any other team's video coordinator. But I've heard of Scarnecchia. And so have you. And so has the NCAA. And all of us are going to be watching him. He's going to be noticed. If he's on the field and there's a camera in his hand, people are going to check and see what he's doing. He's going to have a giant target on his back pretty much for the rest of his career. The opportunity to sneak onto the field and film an opponent is gone. It no longer exists.
2. He Was A Soldier, Not A General - You're responsible for your own decisions, I'll be the first to agree with that. That said, Scarnecchia was also a part of a culture that asked for and appreciated that kind of behavior. Tons of people are on record that, under Belichick and McDaniels, it was implied one way or another that Scarnecchia should do this. Again, not saying he's absolved, for all I know it was Scarnecchia's idea originally. But even if that's the case, he was surrounded by people who let him.
3. Doug Marrone's Word Is His Bond - If you're a Syracuse football fan, you pretty much take Doug Marrone's word as gospel at this point. He has lived up to everything he's ever said and promised. When he says that Syracuse University is the best school in the nation, you understand that he actually does believe that. When he tells you that Syracuse was his dream job, you have no doubt that it's true.
It's painfully obvious how much it matters to Doug that Syracuse's reputation is upheld. By the school, by the players and most certainly by the coaches. Anyone who has not respected the institution and what he wants it to stand for is no longer a part of the program.
Do you honestly believe he's going to take on a guy that he's not 100% sure will hold up that standard as well? Exactly. When Doug Marrone says he's "100 percent certain" of Scarnecchia, what would make you believe that's anything but the truth?