For the past week or so, I've hard a little birdie chirping in my ear about Doug Marrone and the possibility that he could leave the Syracuse Orange for the NFL way sooner than later. (It's an interesting birdie, too. You can figure out who it is if you dig deep enough on my Twitterfeed).
I think Andrew hit all the high notes in his piece yesterday (and you guys had some great comments below it), so I won't go into the same thing. Suffice to say, I DO think Doug Marrone will eventually leave Syracuse for the NFL if he keeps climbing and does something akin to what Greg Schiano did at Rutgers. I DON'T think he's leaving now, despite all the "inside sources" and whatnot.
Honestly, I just don't see him leaving Syracuse for another college job. Even if Notre Dame or Alabama or Florida called. Seriously. He strikes me as the kind of guy who has a very specific goal in mind (returning Syracuse to glory) and beyond that, he wants to do what he loves doing at the highest level (NFL). He's not the kind of guy who wants to, or needs to, bounce around the college game.
What I did want to add is that while I don't think Marrone can be justified as an NFL head coach yet based on his record at Syracuse (24-25), it's good to remember that Marrone was someone high in NFL circles before he ever took the Syracuse job.
I decided to take a look back at what we've talked about on the site over the years when it comes to Doug, especially when he was hired, to try and confirm all of this. It made for a reassuring and funny journey.
These days, Sean Payton's word isn't exactly gold around the NFL (or at least in the eyes of Roger Goodell). But if you're looking for someone to champion HCDM for an NFL gig, he's your guy. Check out what Payton said when Marrone was initially hired and his glowing words last year when SU came to New Orleans to play Tulane.
He came in as the offensive line coach and the thing about Doug that I'm sure Syracuse has seen now is he's a tireless worker, it's all about football, it's very important to him, he's passionate, and he's a great staff guy in that he gets along well with everyone in the building. That kind of compatibility aspect of being an assistant coach is critical. It's as important as your ability to coach.
So you've got a successful NFL coach vouching for the guy. But how bout specifics?
In this takedown of an article Dennis Dodd wrote, naming Doug Marrone as the worst college football hire that year (while New Mexico's Mike Locksley was his best), there's a quote from Tim Green that drives the NFL consideration home:
And there are general managers in the National Football League who are sad today because they thought Doug Marrone was gonna be their next coach when they needed to make a move.
I'm sure Tim was hyping up Marrone, but, it still probably comes from somewhere.
There's also this breakdown of Marrone when he was considered a candidate for the Tennessee job that mentions his likely destination on an NFL sideline.
Whatever the future, I think it is important for suddenly-skittish Syracuse fans to remember Doug's sentiments when he first arrived at Syracuse, and what exactly brought him back here:
For 17 years, Marrone climbed the coaching ladder. As he stepped on every rung, from small college to big, from the SEC to the NFL, from assistant to coordinator, Marrone thought, "How will this help me be the head coach at Syracuse?"
This is not the tale of one man's obsession. This is a love story. In December 2008, Marrone, 45, took over the Orange. When a writer struggled this past spring with how to define Marrone, he replied, "I can answer that question. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
Never say never, but you're telling me THAT guy is gonna leave right in the middle of this reclamation project? I just don't believe it.