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Coach Marrone: Thursday Night Start Means Four Extra Practices

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Doug Marrone stopped by Brent Axe's On The Block program today to talk about the schedule, primetime games and more. If you're mad about the weeknight games, you won't be after Doug speaks. Or at least not as much.

Why SU doesn't just send Doug Marrone out to explain everything to us first, before we get all huffy, I'll never understand. He's like the Syracuse Fan Pacifier.

Here's some highlights...

On the Thursday Night season opener:

"We're exited as a football team because, one, it's gonna give us extra practices. And the way the calendar falls, it's gonna give us four extra practices...we're trying to do a great program of getting students back involved in our football program. I think that there was some excitement, obviously winning the Pinstripe Bowl. So we have an opportunity to get the student body back and be in a game on a Thursday night..."

For those it causes a problem for, I apologize. But we do take it into consideration when we do these games."

On how important it is to play well in the Dome:

"We have to play better at home...we really didn't do a very good job at home [last year]. I feel badly for our fans. And our players do that. They understand that we have to show up and play better at home because our fans deserve to see us play better...This schedule we have, giving us the extra practices, playing at these times, we played well in the evening, so it does create expectation and it's something we're looking forward to.

On SU's primetime games:

"It puts the pressure on us to make sure we perform, cause of the fact of, 'you're on.' Recruits are gonna be watching the game. But we also have a chance to accelerate our program and take it to a level quickly, where we're all...excited about."

On the players working on their own during the summer:

"My concern right now is the leadership of our team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We lost some good players. There's gonna be a transition there of players going in who have the ability to play, now they have to perform and show the leadership there. And offensively, we see now what we're capable of doing. Now we have to go out there and be consistent and do it every single week."

"That's the goal of our football team and obviously our expectations than what thy were a year before and we're excited about that because I want the people to have a better product and to feel that we're gonna put a better football team out there. That's my job."

On the Upstate/Downstate Game this weekend:

"We're really excited about that. It's interesting when you read in the paper some of the quotes from some of the players and how they're handling the media at this stage is very positive (Ed. - Ashton, that means you). They're starting to realize now that when they step into that Dome, it can be a great experience. They're realizing the responsibility they have of being a student-athlete at Syracuse University."

"You know the tough part for us is that, because it's an All-Star game, we're not allowed to talk to those players even though they signed with us. So we're not allowed to see them, we're not allowed to meet with them. We can't do anything until they're excused from the game...I'm excited about the match-up at quarterback and watching that. So I'm looking forward to turning on Time Warner Cable television and watching this game."

On Big East expansion/TV deals/other news...

"I do not control that. I entrust the chancellors and presidents and the ADs and our conference to make sure we're heading in the right direction. I have all the faith in the world in them and I believe we'll have a conference that will not be invaded in the future and a conference that can last a long period of time as something we can all be proud to be a part of.

On the business side of coaching:

"I know what we're doing is the right thing. From an academic standpoint, from life skills, from leadership for our players...I know it's right. But we had to win this year in order for people to say, 'Hey, this leadership program is great.' 'Hey, this life skills program is great.' It's almost like you had to win to validate what you're doing off the field, which I always know what we're doing is the right thing. Now whether we can win enough games and I can stay here for a long period of time, that's the goal. But that's not my decision.

"I always tell people, I'm gonna be judged by wins and losses, and I understand it and I chose this profession. But that's not how I judge myself. I judge myself on the type of player I'm putting back out in the community."

On how he can "do it the right way" when so many other programs haven't (Ohio State, USC...)

"Well, again, I think it all depends on your leadership. What type of leadership do you have in your program. It's very simple. We have core values, we know the direction we're headed, we have a clear vision of what we want to accomplish as a football program and it's more than just winning on the football field. It's important to win, I don't ever want anyone to get confused with my philosophy or my values. It's very important for us to win. But it's more important for us to make sure we're doing the right things for our student-athletes. And that'll come out more and more now because of the academic success that we're having on campus and the academic success we're having in the Big East and with the ESPN All-Americans in that region...and I have to do a better job of promoting that."

"That's the whole goal. To create a program that's doing it the right way. People like Coach [Scott] Shafer, Coach [Nate] Hackett and all of our other assistant coaches, that they will move on and they will have their own programs and will run it like the Syracuse University football program, one that can be modeled by many."

On the undrafted Syracuse seniors waiting on the NFL lockout to end:

"With this group of players that we have, these seniors, they've faced so much adversity. This seems like its just another thing that they have to deal with and they have to put a smile on their face as they're going forward. I see them quite a bit, they're working out, they're training, they're getting ready for when the lockout ends to be ready to go."

Listen to the entire interview here.