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Syracuse Football: How Ya Like Marrone, Now?

Leave for the NFL? It's cool. But when Doug Marrone decided to take Nathaniel Hackett with him, that may have changed things.


Losing a head coach can obviously derail a successful football program. But retaining key coordinators and other important assistants can significantly soften the blow.

It was the word of the day on Tuesday for Orange fans: continuity.

Losing Doug Marrone to the NFL's Buffalo Bills hurt but the reports Syracuse was making defensive coordinator Scott Shafer head coach and retaining offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett helped. It looked like Syracuse was keeping its two most successful assistants and, theoretically, would keep a very important recruiting class mostly intact.

Marrone's in the NFL, Shafer and Hackett are still at SU, and recruits, specifically Zach Allen, stick with their plans -- everyone is happy. Then Marrone double-dipped his chip into Syracuse's salsa bowl of continuity. Marrone, surprising just about everyone, named Hackett his offensive coordinator. Poof goes the continuity.

And as for Marrone? Does he lose any good will he had built up? Does it tarnish a legacy?

@beneg92: Low, but understandable

@AnthonyDemo: Marrone taking Hackett was to be expected in my opinion.....You can't be bitter about Marrone leaving....

Given the response in the last Tweet-Bag, most fans will always see Marrone as the coach who turned Syracuse football around, while others are withholding judgement until further notice -- until Shafer either succeeds or face-plants.

It is Marrone's prerogative to pick whoever he wants, obviously. But it is interesting how Marrone's departure did go down.

@PaulieDars: his coaching legacy remains the same. Any nolstagia or good feelings surrounding his departure are gone though.

It seems like he kind of went AWOL after the Pinstripe Bowl, preparing to move on. Not music to the Orange fan ear, but still understandable. All and all, there really isn't a "right" way to leave a program unless a coach retires. So, Marrone's exit wasn't perfect but it wasn't horrible -- right down the line.

Then this Hackett move came along and it's a tough one to swallow for some fans.

@JohnCassillo: Treasonous and malicious are the first two words that come to mind. This isn't a peaceful departure from SU.


Still, John's got a point here. Marrone is taking away a major cog in the Syracuse football machine. Hackett had, and still has, his detractors, but there is no doubt things were clicking by the end of his stay in Central New York. SU scored 30 or more points seven times in 2012, 38 points in each of the last two games -- including the Pinstripe Bowl.

Marrone is getting someone he knows in Hackett, and, just the same, Marrone knows what he is doing to Syracuse in taking Hackett. Attempting to replace those stats? That's a mountain of a problem. Replacing the defensive coordinator is easy because Shafer's still there, but Hackett's gone. That means returning players will likely have to learn a new system or have the old system taught to them by someone new.

Not only that, an important byproduct of keeping Shafer and Hackett was to lock-in what looks to be a decent recruiting class. What does Hackett's leaving do to that? What about Allen, who tweeted early Tuesday that he was committed to Syracuse but probably didn't know Hackett was out the door? This is a potentially devastating move.

Losing recruits this late in the game could crush future years. Not to mention, Allen may be next season's starting quarterback. Marrone clearly made a move he was comfortable with all the while knowing what it could do to the stability of Syracuse football.

@ssmorol: a dick move.

This whole moving on from Marrone thing is going to be tricky. It should be an interesting couple of weeks as we wait and see what the new leadership of the Orange football program looks like.