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Syracuse Football: Daryl Gross Sheds Light on His First Head Coach Search for the Orange

Ever wonder how things shook out the way they did when DOCTOR Gross arrived? He shared some thoughts yesterday.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This week marks 10 years since DOCTOR Daryl Gross arrived at Syracuse. This anniversary sees mixed reviews amongst Orange fans, but especially when it comes to the football program -- as we saw VERY clearly in Tuesday's comments. Regardless of your feelings of him, however, you might still wonder about his thought process during his first critical move: firing and replacing long-time head coach Paul Pasqualoni. Well, Gross decided to shed some light on that process during his radio show yesterday.

For starters, Gross was ready to keep Pasqualoni around after the Orange made the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, given the team's co-conference championship that year and the coach's history of success with SU. But a 51-14 defeat to Georgia Tech (the first of two recent ass-whippings at the hands of the Wreck), plus murmurs that fans were over his tenure, led to a change in direction. We're all in agreement at this point that Coach P should have been released given the circumstances, right?

Gross makes sure to mention that he didn't want to change coaches that late in the game (late December-early January), but his hand was forced. This is where you can find another scapegoat for Greg Robinson's hire, if you hadn't already started pointing fingers at Gross and Cantor. Pete Carroll, former USC pal and current Seahawks head honcho gave Gross two names (among others unmentioned) -- Robinson and Bo Pelini, who was then the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. USC smoked the Sooners in the 2005 Orange Bowl, which doomed Pelini's candidacy quite a bit:

"We (USC) end up playing Oklahoma in the bowl game, and Bo is the defensive coordinator, and we beat them (55-19) and I'm going, how can I bring that to Syracuse?... Looking back, the body of work for the whole season is probably more of an indicator, and we had a really good team at SC."

Obviously, Pelini ended up being very successful at LSU and then as head coach at Nebraska until this December's firing. And while that sucks to look at given the overall state of Syracuse football from 2005 through today, can you imagine what the reaction would have been had Gross hired Pelini coming off that loss? I mean, imagine it. His quote above is spot-on. "How can I (he) bring that to Syracuse?"

The answer was he couldn't. Obviously this is also in his words and 10 years later, so who knows if that's exactly how everything transpired. But you get the drift. He was faced with two decisions he couldn't avoid -- firing P and passing on Pelini. Things just didn't work out as planned... at all, given Robinson's disastrous 10-win tenure.


This isn't meant to apologize for the DOCTOR. We've discussed him all week, and some of that's been done. More than anything, it's just an account of his thinking, from the man himself.

Want to find out more, though? Maybe ask him yourself. It just so happens he's hosting a Q&A on right now. It's unlikely he answers anything about this specifically, but hey, you never know.