Greg Robinson spent almost his entire coaching career West of the Mississippi. He took the SU head coaching job without ever stepping foot in Syracuse. It's safe to say when he arrived in town as the head football coach that might have been the first time he ever stepped foot in Upstate New York. Nevermind the fact that he had no idea of the in's and out's of Northeastern recruiting, Syracuse's bread and butter for as long as anyone could remember.
Four years later, all of that was very evident.
And so the question now is, how much value to do place on the next head coach's experience dealing with the conditions and recruiting trails of the Northeast? It's a question that divides Syracuse fans. Apparently, it also divides Syracuse journalists.
If you ask Dave Rahme, the answer is simple. Sorry Lane Kiffin, the next coach must be a Northeastern guy:
The last time the Syracuse University athletic director hired a coach he used a checklist that placed a premium on defense and NFL experience. Those attributes apparently pushed other factors such as previous head coaching experience, having systems of offense and defense proven to work at the college level and intimate knowledge of Eastern football down the list.
[The next coach] must understand and be able to overcome the dynamic working against SU, a small, private school located in a high school football wasteland. Its historic recruiting territory has been trimmed by the emergence of Rutgers as a competitive team, the resurgence of Pittsburgh since moving into the Steelers' shiny digs at Heinz Field and the creation of three more Division I-A teams in Florida. The effects of the shrinkage have been compounded by the image created by Greg Robinson's four seasons of futility.
Rahme also notes that many of the current Big East coaches have extensive Northeastern history and ties and it's worked out well for many of those programs.
He must understand that he will not be a national recruiter, at least not right away. He will not stock his roster with five-star prospects and will not have New York's best players knocking his door down just because SU is located in the state. And unlike Texas and California and Florida and other football-rich states, if those players decide to go elsewhere there won't be three or four others with equal ability waiting to take their place.
But Donnie Webb takes the flip side. He says if the coach is good enough, the location he comes from doesn't matter:
Instead of focusing on residency, shouldn't the objective be hiring the best coach available, someone that's a relentless and fearless recruiter, who has the expertise and experience to fix the program on the field and off it with recruiting?
If Pete Carroll himself came knocking at Gross' door, would you tell him, no thanks, not Eastern enough?
Webb also reference Nick Saban, who ain't no Suthun'r, in Alabama. But these are big name coaches we're talking about. Pete Carroll isn't knocking on Gross' door. Saban won a national title before coming to Alabama. SU is dealing in a lot of unknown quantities. If Randy Esdall really is out and Chris Peterson is a longshot, most of the choices that are left don't have a lot of head coaching experience so the recruiting and history factor has to be magnified.
I get the sense Donnie doesn't even drink the Kool Aid on this one, he's just playing Devil's Advocate. Rahme provides solid reasoning, Donnie just provides hypotheticals. I'm going with Dave on this one...Northeastern experience matters for the next SU coach.
Unless Pete Carroll knocks. Natch.