In 2010, Connecticut Huskies head coach Randy Edsall split the Big East Coach of the Year with Charlie Strong after leading his team to an 8-4 regular-season record, which was on the heels of an 8-5 season. Keep in mind that Edsall returned 17 seniors in 2010 and UConn was expected to be among the teams vying for the Big East crown. They won the Big East title mostly due to the fact that the league was terrible.
Meanwhile, Doug Marrone was taking a team that went 4-8 the previous year into a season in which they were picked to finish seventh in the conference. Syracuse ended up going 7-5 in the regular-season, a three-win swing, that also culminated in the school's first bowl game since 2004.
Marrone came in third in Coach of the Year voting that year. I have yet to understand why.
I am reminded of the absurdity of Big East Coach of the Year voting again in 2012 as once again two coaches split the title and Doug Marrone is not among them.
At Big East Media Day, the Louisville Cardinals were picked to win the Big East. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were picked to finish third. In other places, Rutgers was picked to win the conference themselves. The expectation for both was that they should compete for the Big East title and win 8-10 games.
Meanwhile, the Syracuse Orange were picked to finish 7th, below the UConn Huskies and ahead of only the Temple Owls. Expectations were so low that a bowl game and a winning record seemed out of the question.
Fast-forward to the end of the season, Louisville won the Big East title and Rutgers, for all intents and purposes, came in second. Louisville won 10 games and Rutgers won 9. They met their expectations.
As for Syracuse, all they did was play a much-tougher schedule than both of those schools, get off to a tumultuous 1-3 start and then fight their way back to win seven games, grab a share of the Big East crown alongside both of those schools and beat Louisville in the process.
While Louisville and Rutgers did what they were supposed to do, Syracuse exceeded expectations and did so after a start of the season that easily could have derailed it all. A bad coach would have let this team quit around Week 6. A great coach turns them into a bowl team.
I don't doubt that Charlie Strong and Kyle Flood did great coaching jobs this season. But there's no doubt in my biased mind that Doug Marrone did a better one.
The Big East, where we reward you for doing what you were supposed to do.