When Doug Marrone was hired as the head coach of the Syracuse Orange football program in 2009, it was widely reported that he only got the job after Skip Holtz turned it down. According to one BoT member, everyone was torn 50/50 and it could have gone either way. Marrone was hired, Holtz became the head coach of the South Florida Bulls and the rest is history.
Four years later, Marrone had resurrected Syracuse into a bowl-worth program and parlayed his success into an NFL gig. Holtz, meanwhile, was fired after three seasons at USF, all worse than the one before it.
Fair or not, the two coaches and what they did in those coaching stints were intrinsically linked. Holtz's reputation would in part define Marrone's reputation and help answer the question as to whether or not SU chose wisely in taking Marrone.
Syracuse chose wisely.
Back before Marrone got the gig, there were a bevy of suitors for the role of Syracuse Savior. Rob Konrad, the last #44, wrote an impassioned letter to the Post-Standard back in 2008 pushing for the hiring of a former SU assistant and then-Florida assistant Steve Addazio. Konrad noted that he no idea if Addazio was actually interested in the job but he made a good case for SU to consider the fiery, unproven assistant.
Syracuse actually did end up bringing in an Addazio...Steve's son Louie Addazio, who walked-on to the team in 2011. The two Addazios would go head-to-head in 2012 when the Orange took on the Temple Owls, coached then by the elder Addazio.
Fast-forward a few months. After a solid stint at Temple, Steve Addazio is hired as the new coach of the Boston College Eagles. Their fanbase is...unsure. A month later, Doug Marrone leaves Syracuse. I wrote at the time that "I really wish BC hadn't snagged Steve Addazio already." It had been long rumored that Steve had a soft spot in his heart for SU and would have wanted the gig had it become available sooner.
Instead, Scott Shafer was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach. Few SU fans were upset, it was a hire that made sense and Shafer had the pedigree to make a good go of it. Despite expectations that the team would take a large step back, they ended up going back to a bowl game in 2013, his first season at the helm, setting just the right tone for Syracuse's continued ascension up the ranks.
And that brings us to 2014. The Orange are 3-8 and staring the very distinct possibility of finishing 3-9 in the face. It would be the worst finish since 2008, the last year of the GERG Era. And standing across the field from Shafer, hoping to make this happen, will be Steve Addazio.
It should be noted that Addazio already has Boston College on their way back to a bowl game for the second year in a row. He's also molded his "dudes" into the type of team that can hang with the Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles, nearly beating both of them in the past two seasons. While the Eagles continue their ascent back up the respectability ladder, they've already proven they're no longer a pushover.
In short, BC is where Syracuse thought it would be right now. BC is where Syracuse wants to be. And the fact that Syracuse has taken such a huge step backwards is disturbing enough, let alone in comparison to our Northeastern rivals.
Shafer bested Addazio in year one but that's a distant memory. If BC trounces Syracuse as expected, they'll take a lot of momentum with them into a bowl game and the off-season. Meanwhile, Syracuse will be starting over yet again, full of unknowns, what-ifs and what-could-be's.
Scott Shafer faces an uphill climb in 2015, especially if Steve Addazio keeps things moving in the right direction in Boston. Because of the proximity, the rivalry and the what-could-have-been nature of their hirings, the two coaches will be linked until they're both gone from their current posts, one way or another. At that point we'll say Syracuse choose wisely or Syracuse choose poorly.
A year ago, we would have said wisely. In this moment, it's looking rather poorly. This time next year...who knows what the answer will be.