Doug Marrone is as good as gone. That caught your attention, right? It's an easy attention grabber for Syracuse football fans, no doubt about it. That's because over the last 24 hours we've seen the Tweets and read the reports, Marrone is set to interview with NFL teams -- which includes Buffalo and Cleveland and the Syracuse head coach is on a number of other team's radars. (Bill Parcells is backing the man, for crying out loud!)
I have no more inside information on this topic than you do. I have no idea if these NFL teams are seriously considering hiring Marrone, or if they are simply taking him out for a test drive. But, as I tweeted, I think any team that interviews Marrone is smart to do so. And I do think Marrone will move on, sometime.
Now, for the non-believer Marrone is simply a lower level college coach with a .500 record (25-25). Someone who is getting high praise for winning something called the Pinstripe Bowl, two times nonetheless. In fact, Marrone's only head coaching job, ever, is the one he currently has. And he's only had that one for four years. So in other words, he's not a legit NFL coaching candidate.
The Orange faithful, and a lot of "football" people, know differently. They've seen it, Marrone has proven to be the real deal. I don't need to rehash it all, one more time, but what Marrone has done for Syracuse football is practically indescribable. He's taken a program that was losing 9 to 10 games a year, with a dried up recruiting pipe, and no real hope of going to any bowl game, and made it a winner. A BCS winner? No. But that's not the point -- everything else, all the little things it took to get SU football back off the mat, is the point.
Those little things, and them being in order, is exactly what it takes to win in the NFL. That's why NFL teams are buying in. Just because his name isn't Gruden or Cowher doesn't mean he's not qualified. He's done more in four years at Syracuse than anyone else in the previous 10 plus years combined.
And that, along with the Syracuse turnaround, is why Marrone will be as good as gone from here on out. Success breeds suitors. He's proven too good not to get noticed. Too dedicated and intelligent to be ignored.
As for Syracuse, we all know the deal. Hire the right guy, have him clean up the program, and get it back winning. As far as I can tell, you can check off all three for Marrone. Program changers get looked at. After that? Anything can happen.
Sure, Marrone's dream job is/was coaching at Syracuse, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have more dreams in him. He could certainly dream about coaching in the NFL. Maybe that was a dream he never dare to have? Or maybe that's been there the whole time but it never really mattered? Either way -- we can all admit, the NFL trumps just about everything.
Sometimes coaches leave for that next step, that next challenge, and sometimes they don't. Syracuse has been lucky, what with someone like Jim Boeheim roaming the sidelines for the better part of three decades. But that's the exception. For Marrone, we're not sure yet.
But I think the majority of us know Marrone will be as good as gone until he is gone. And eventually he really could be.