If Not Doug Marrone, Then Who Can Bring Back SU Football?

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

If Marrone wasn't an alum who considered coming back to coach at the school he graduated from a lifelong dream, would we already be looking for his replacement? If Robinson wasn't his predecessor, would realtors be leaving cards in the coaches mailbox at his house?

@charibayanker If Doug can't bring SU football back who can? That's scary question.

That was tweeted out by an SU fan Monday, but it's been a question on just about every Orange football fan's mind over the last few days. Either directly in the forefront or buried deep in the subconscious, Syracuse fans have to be worrying, if only a little, about the state of the program and the job being done by Marrone.

Myself, I'm a pro-Marrone guy. I saw what Marrone took over and knew this wouldn't be a quick fix, and it hasn't been. We all knew it wouldn't be easy. Paul Pasqualoni left Syracuse football for dead and Greg Robinson took the barely breathing program out back and put it out of its misery. An empty cupboard is one thing for a new coach to deal with, but Marrone didn't even have cupboards. He had to go down to IKEA, purchase them, assemble them, and hang them just to have cupboards in the first place.

So, the fact that Marrone is struggling, even into year four, isn't really a big shock. Few could have predicted that the Orange would even be competitive this soon under Marrone, fewer still could have seen a bowl victory in year two. Not to mention, Marrone's already in the record books on the Hill for securing 18 wins in his first 40 games coached.

But does all of that exempt Marrone from feeling some heat today? If Marrone wasn't an alum who considered coming back to coach at the school he graduated from a lifelong dream, would we already be looking for his replacement? If Robinson wasn't his predecessor, would realtors be leaving cards in the coaches mailbox at his house?

Sometimes I think Marrone's job being so difficult has actually, in a weird way, made it a little easier for him, too. Despite last season's flame out and this season's slow start, the majority of fans aren't calling for his head. In fact, have you had a conversation with someone an anti-Marronite?

I have and it's very easy to dismiss their argument. The losing streak to end last season, the 1-3 start to '12, the boneheaded plays that are pretty routine by Marrone players, all of that is easy to counter by just reminding the Marrone hater of where the program was just over three years ago.

And another easy way to defend Marrone is to simply as the question, if Marrone can't bring back SU football, then who can? That strikes fear in the SU fan's heart. But, hopefully we can change that.

For years, Syracuse fans have been kicked around, beaten and bruised, we've watched the program go from something dependable, something we could count on for big wins and maddening losses, but now its become this weird variation of Syracuse football that could lose by 7 or by 70. Three coaches later, and we're still waiting for a return to whatever the glory days could or should be.

And that's why there is this worry of if not Marrone, then who? Fading glory is why the school fired Pasqualoni to take a chance on Robinson. A huge swing and miss later, the school went to Marrone. A safe choice who seemed like a can't miss. Alum, check. Football personality, check. NFL background, check. Here for the long haul, check. If that guy can't do some good with SU football, no one will ever be able to.

Really, even if it's deep down in your subconscious, I think we all shake off loses because Marrone is supposed to be the Golden Boy and firing him probably says more about Syracuse football than it does about Marrone's coaching. I think we all thought SU would be "turned around" six or seven years ago. So fans are petrified of having to wipe the slate clean one more time and put faith into another Big Orange Hope of a football coach.

But the truth is, if things don't turn around, if SU finishes with nine or ten loses (something I still don't see happening, but still...) then Marrone deserves to have the heat turned up. Recent history be damned. Not to mention, the ACC is looming and with its Florida States, Clemsons and Virginia Techs, winning there is going to be a tall order.

That's in the future, as any talk of replacing Marrone need be. But, fans and school officials have to be open to the fact that Marrone shouldn't be exempt. The Orange faithful can't be afraid of change so much that they allow the program to continue to falter. Daryl Gross, PHD, can't be so scared of firing another coach that he lets Marrone stay on to the detriment of the program.

The reason Pasqualoni is gone, the reason Robinson is gone (besides his obvious hatred of football) is because the fans were vocal they should be fired. Jobs weren't being done, meaning jobs were lost.

It's OK to ask if Doug Marrone can't bring back SU football, then who can? Just don't ask that out of fear that the answer will never come. Rather, ask it as a way to remind yourself, if it's not Doug Marrone, the savior to Syracuse football is still out there.

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