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Syracuse Football: Is There A Point Of No Return For Marrone?

As Doug Marrone earns more interviews with teams a question becomes: Can the SU head coach go too far down the NFL road to come back?


Let's see: There's the Bills, the Browns, the Eagles, and even the Chargers (!?). Those are the teams, we think, that either want to interview Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone or have already done so.

Of course, between reports, rumors, tweets, and agents, Marrone may not have interviewed with any team, at all. But given that Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross, PHD, acknowledged the NFL has interest and Marrone himself hasn't come out and said, "I'm not going anywhere. I love Syracuse University," we can assume some of what we've heard and read is true.

And as I've written, we should all get used to the idea that Doug Marrone will be a targeted man due to his success and experience. There is no fault or blame here. Marrone's not a bad guy for listening to the NFL. The same goes for Chip Kelly or even Bill O'Brien, both of whom had their own interviews with NFL teams -- the same teams as Marrone. Success breeds suitors and there is no bigger or popular suitor than the National Football League.

But there is a question to be had here: Could interviewing with all these teams burn some bridges with the Orange fan base for Marrone?

I would think a lot of fans won't care too much. Looking at what Syracuse football was prior to his arrival as compared to where it is now, Marrone is looked upon as some kind of savior. For those fans, no harm no foul with Marrone listening to the NFL sirens.

Other fans, some who've tweeted me, seem to think Marrone -- and maybe even Gross to a lesser extent -- is flirting with the NFL with an ulterior motive in mind. Basically, Marrone's trying to get the university or boosters, or both, to pony up some money by threatening to leave. "Pay up - with money for him, money for assistants, money for the program. Badly needed, by the way -- or I'm gone." And while we'll never really know if that's the case, if Marrone does come back, some fans will think he was really trying to better the program the whole time.

But I would bet there are a lot of more fans who haven't thought about what it is going to be like should Marrone stay. To hear Marrone talk about his love for the University and his desire to be here after doing his NFL tour. Clearly Marrone is an "SU Guy" who has more history with the program than any of us. But it is going to at least be weird to hear him, at some point down the line, say he was never really interested in the NFL. Or that he never had any intention of leaving. I mean, a little flirting is one thing, but this seems more than that, doesn't it?

And the thing is, should Marrone keep winning, the NFL isn't going to go away. In fact, it's way more than likely the New York Jets will be looking for a new head coach next year! You don't think Marrone will be mentioned for that opening? A team he coached for, a team near his home town? Some conspiracy theorists think Marrone's interviewing this year to gain experience to be ready for the Jets -- crazy, but not totally bonkers.

Marrone probably hasn't gone too far down the NFL road to come back. He's a Syracuse guy getting national attention, I don't see fans souring on him -- yet. But once the dust settles down, I think some fans will be a little queasy with Marrone and the football program's future. It would be almost impossible not to.The guy clearly has bigger aspirations than Syracuse. Not a bad thing, but still disconcerting to see it play out in such a nation-wide way.

But before we can get to that point of how it will feel, we have to figure out if Marrone is even coming back. Something Marrone has to figure out, too. Actually, from the looks of it, an NFL team is going to decide that for all of us.

UPDATE - Well, after about 10 p.m. Saturday everything escalated quickly...and then early Sunday this happened:

: Filed to ESPN: Doug Marrone has agreed to leave Syracuse and become the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

So, Marrone is evidently set to leave for the Buffalo Bills. Will he take Hackett and Shafer with him? Will all the recruits, including Zach Allen -- possible starting QB in '13 -- look elsewhere? What will Marrone's legacy ultimately be, traitor, savior, somewhere in-between? What are Bills fans thinking now?

So many questions for later, but for now, let the freaking out commence.