Many forget but the Syracuse head coaching job came down to Doug Marrone and Skip Holtz. What if Holtz would have said yes? Who knows what their legacies would have been.
Long time readers of the site will remember the Syracuse Coaching Search Sexy-O-Meter. I've been running this blog since 2006 and in that time we've had exactly one basketball coach, one lacrosse coach and two football coaches, so I haven't exactly had many opportunities to bring it back out.
The SOM was created to help us determine who was, at that very moment, the sexy pick to be the next coach of the Syracuse Orange football team. For every single day that I posted it, save for the initial one in which he was No. 2, the No. 1 pick on the board was always East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz.
By December 8th, it had become a two-horse race, Skip Holtz and some ragamuffin named Doug Marrone. According to SU BOT member John Chappele, "It was down to (Skip) Holtz and (Doug) Marrone." On December 11th, Holtz made their decision easy for them, officially bowing out of consideration. Syracuse hired Marrone.
month year later, Holtz took the job at South Florida. It was not lost on Syracuse fans that Skip deemed SU unworthy as a landing spot for the next leg of his career and had instead seen promise in a program that had even existed 15 years earlier, not to mention they were in our conference.
Not that Orange fans complained. We were, at least until recently, mostly happy with the Marrone hiring and glad it was a Cuse guy who got the job over Holtz, who probably would have bolted for a better position anyway at the first sign of success.
Still, as we look across the aisle to see how enraged USF fans with the state of their program and their head coach, one can't help but wonder what things would have been like if Holtz had decided to take his talents to Manlius instead. Would he be in the exact same situation he's in now or would it be even worse considering he walked into a great situation in Tampa and would have walked into a waking nightmare in Syracuse.
Imagine how different things might have been if Skip said yes to SU. Doug Marrone probably would have returned for another season as Saints' OC, one that just so happened to be their Super Bowl-winning year. Marrone would have been a pretty hot commodity around the NFL and people said at the time that he already was. The big coaching opening that year was with the Buffalo Bills. Would they have rolled the dice on the hotshot OC over boring Chan Gailey?
Perhaps Doug was destined to be a head coach in Upstate New York regardless of where.
The man who preceded Doug Marrone, and almost Skip Holtz, used to say that "time will tell." Certainly, the Doug Marrone vs. Skip Holtz debate falls under that category as well. I'm pretty sure that Syracuse got who they should have gotten out of that deal. Still, Marrone's not exactly Coach Mac, Part II. Not yet, at least.
If Marrone's team can beat Holtz's team, it might be all-she-wrote for the embattled Son of Lou. Six-straight losses and almost-sure losing record in a season in which they were a sneaky pick for the conference crown might be too much to bear. There would be something to Syracuse being the team that broke the dam for Skip, though I don't think I'll call it karma or just desserts or anything like that. Just interesting.
I wonder how we'll look back on the careers of Doug Marrone and Skip Holtz five, ten years from now. This game could go a long way towards determining it.