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A Decade In, What Impact Has DOCTOR Daryl Gross Had on Syracuse Football?

Ten years into DOCTOR Gross's tenure, it's worth evaluating the job he's done thus far.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

If you weren't aware, this week marks the 10-year anniversary of DOCTOR Daryl Gross's hire as the Syracuse University athletics director. To commemorate the mark,'s Chris Carlson has been taking a look at Gross's impact on various aspects of the athletic program, and today, he covered football. It's a great read which you should definitely check out, as it dives into the various aspects of football success and evaluates whether or not Gross has achieved them since his hire.

Obviously, Syracuse fans have a lot of opinions on this topic. And rightfully so. Gross was brought in to fix football in large part, and if we're grading him on just that aspect of things -- versus nearly every other sport, where things are incredibly successful -- things get hazy. Carlson shows both sides of the argument very well, but we thought it would be good to break things down here too, using his criteria, plus some of our own very subjective letter grades.

Coaching Hires

Gross gets an F for GERG and a B+ for Doug Marrone's hire. In Robinson, the program could not have gotten a worse outcome than the deplorable 10-37 (3-25) mark he posted in four seasons, and the after-effects of said move are still felt today. Being honest with ourselves, Gross didn't have much of a choice when it came to firing long-time coach Paul Pasqualoni, but more years of Coach P could have (potentially) prevented the steep and immediate drop under GERG. Marrone, on the other hand, is a B+ but only because the job wasn't necessarily "done" when he left. Still, the former Syracuse football player came in and created an immediate culture shift, ushering in winning ways and a competitive football team in year one, before a breakthrough eight-win campaign in year two. The 2011 season sucked, as we all know, but 2012's eight wins also showed the program on the precipice of renewed relevance. It was a phenomenal job and a phenomenal hire.

And then that takes us to current coach Scott Shafer. Through two seasons, his 10 wins and one bowl game (and victory) are leaving fans lukewarm, but by and large, there are a couple things to consider: Shafer wasn't REALLY Gross's hire, as he was brought on staff by Marrone. And Gross pretty much had to promote from within for the sake of continuity. Shafer is still the head coach and will be for at least one more season. For now, the last two years can't really factor into his grade in terms of coaching, but after next year, we'll get much more clarity.

Grade: C+

Current State of the Program

Carlson goes through the numbers, so we don't have to rehash, but the current state of Syracuse football needs to be evaluated by the sum of recent results -- not just the last season. In the last five years, the Orange have made a bowl game three times (and won them all), and have recorded 31 wins (vs. 32 losses). That's still miles from where they were when Coach P was fired, and light years ahead of where this program was under Robinson. The jury's still out (again) on which direction things head from here. Despite a terrible 2014 campaign, the Syracuse defense still largely kept the team in games and outside of a contest or two, the Orange were competitive throughout the year.

Where the W-L totals fail to capture everything, however, is the impact of the ACC move. Through two years, we're only beginning to understand its full ramifications. But you can't talk about that dynamic jump in the college football world without at least mentioning Gross's marking acumen. We joke about #BRAND all the time, but there's a fair chance Syracuse isn't at the big boys' table without "New York's College Team," regardless of the validity of that claim.

Grade: B-


Let's see what happens with the NCAA before we go handing out grades here, but for now, the program's been largely out of the negative spotlight.

Grade: Incomplete


Unsure how I missed these numbers, but Syracuse spent $23.6 million on the football program in 2013-14 (fifth in the ACC). Who knows how much more that spend was in 2014-15, but I'm almost scared to find out. Even if it was the same exact number, it means SU spent $5.7M per victory. Which should make you ill.

Carlson also brings up a very good point within the piece -- this does not account for alumni giving and boosters. So to even be competitive with the rest of the conference (especially its state schools), SU HAS TO spend that sort of cash, since it's unlikely donations will come close to those state schools.

Again, the 2013-14 number seems disconcerting given on-field results, but 2014-15 spend figures should give us a better indication (though admittedly, I wouldn't think it would be less). If Syracuse is spending that sort of cash and a) not making a bowl, and/or b) not paying its assistants that much, that's not good.

Grade: C


The new indoor practice facility (open in January) cost quite a bit of coin ($17M+), yet all it does is get us on the same playing field as the bottom of the power five barrel. That's not necessarily Gross's fault -- Syracuse football has been woefully behind other schools on the facilities front for decades -- and it also underscores another one of is challenges when it comes to this program. His starting point with wins and losses may have been middle-of-the-road, but the infrastructure Gross has had to work with has largely been on a MAC level. It's tough to raise funds for a practice facility when football was at the depths of the GERG era. And due to a fickle fan base (sorry, guys, it's true), even marginal success doesn't exactly have money pouring in, per se. Once the practice facility opens and we go through the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes too, we can reevaluate facilities.

Grade: B-


It's difficult to truly evaluate "the future" since well, it's the future. It's an unknown at the moment. What we do know is that Syracuse is in the ACC and has shown it can be competitive in that conference. We know that the practice facility should help us improve our stature to recruits, and hopefully our on-field performance as a result. We also know that there's talk about replacing the Carrier Dome, which may or may not be a good thing. No point in grading the future, since we have no idea what it brings until it's there.


So those grades don't look glowing, but again, they don't tell the full story either. Syracuse is in the ACC and in two years there, have produced one winning season and one losing season. Syracuse is opening a new indoor practice facility and needs to see those results before we really know the state of things. There's also the matter of getting to the end of Shafer's third year before we truly get a handle on what we have here.

I think Gross has been a success, in the sense that Syracuse's lot (in football) is better than it was before, and it's future looks brighter -- yes, brighter -- than it did when he arrived. There's reasons for doubt on Gross, obviously. But there's also just as many reasons to see him as a success, in football and elsewhere, and for that, I think we can be positive going forward (for now).


But what do you think? I'm sure this will have mixed reviews...