This week, the Daily Orange did a cool series called The Dark Days of Syracuse Football in which they went back and looked at four key moments in the recent past that have contributed to the decline of the program.
It started with Michael Vick choosing Virginia Tech over the Orange, moved on to The Greg Robinson Era (which never happened), debated the validity of The Greg Paulus Experiment and finally the fallout of Doug Marrone's sudden departure in 2011.
Peppered throughout the stories are honest quotes from former Syracuse Orange players like Delone Carter, Derrell Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Rob Long. To me, at least, this felt like the first time we were getting an unfettered look behind the curtain to see what was really going on inside the program. While we were being told "everything is great, the future is bright," things didn't seem like that to the people actually playing football (hmmm...).
Here's the most interesting quotes that I noticed in the stories (as well as those that didn't make the cut but writer Sam Fortier shared on Twitter).
Syracuse fullback Kyle Johnson on how much the 62-0 loss to Virginia Tech in 1999 deflated the team.
"It was the worst loss I’ve ever experienced of any sport of my entire life. And the way they dominated was just awful. We lost our mojo for most of the rest of the year."
Syracuse linebacker Jake Flaherty, reminding us that being a great person and a nice guy isn't part of the job description for head football coach.
"Greg Robinson did everything he could to try to win football games."
Rob Long on the team's wariness about this Greg Paulus fellow who just showed up to play football.
"There were players who were very suspicious...Greg walked in and it was, ‘Who’s this kid all over ESPN who thinks he’s going to just come in and change this program all of a sudden without having proven himself?’"
Delone Carter with the pipebomb on Paulus and Marrone...
"(Paulus starting) was just a publicity stunt … to get the community back into Syracuse football to have the hometown boy come out and boost morale. And (he brought) leadership from Duke and how vocal he was to Syracuse. Other than that, Nassib should’ve been playing."
Long on the intensity and change that Doug Marrone brought with him when he took over the program:
How the SU football team first met head coach Doug Marrone and what he said about the team's locker room: pic.twitter.com/mUwXr0FGLw— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) October 28, 2015
Remember when there was a mass exodus when Marrone took over? Delone Carter's not sayin'....he's just sayin'...
How Marrone taught his team accountability during winter practices outside in Syracuse, New York: pic.twitter.com/LntjPTKan3— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) October 28, 2015
Long spills on how the Mike Williams situation went down internally.
How the locker room saw the curfew violation which led to future NFLer Mike Williams' dismissal from the program: pic.twitter.com/1TaSd7g4zF— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) October 28, 2015
Derrell Smith on the way Marrone tried to instill responsibility into the team when he arrived.
Marrone teaching accountability included paying for lost clothing: pic.twitter.com/RHM2PpFU3a— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) October 28, 2015
Prince-Tyson Gulley on Doug Marrone's tenure:
"I thought he was about to try to start a dynasty where he graduated from… And I thought that was the original goal."
Gulley with an interesting admission that Scott Shafer's first season might not have been the smooth transition we were all told it was.
"Everybody kind of thought that it was really going to be similar to what we were already doing but then Coach Shafer switched it … which was a culture shock because obviously they don’t think anything like each other."
Gulley also dishes on his not-at-all great relationship with RB coach Tyrone Wheatley.
"Obviously, everybody within that running back room had their stories with Coach Wheatley about how they grew with him," Gulley said. "Mine was pretty crazy because me and Coach Wheatley didn’t see eye-to-eye from day one … and then when he just left, it went deeper than football, it was like, ‘Dang.’"