Editor's Note: This entire article may be considered a trigger warning for Syracuse Orange football fans who rooted for the program between 2005 and 2008. Please proceed accordingly.
Recently-retired (or so we thought), Greg Robinson has a lot more time on his hands these days. He used some of that time to speak with Sam Blum of The Daily Orange about his tenure as head coach of the Syracuse football program from 2005 and 2008. A tenure that many have called the worst stretch in Syracuse Football history and a period from which the program is still trying to dig itself out of.
Greg Robinson doesn't see it that way.
"If you go back and check out the archives of the players that I left in that program. A whole bunch went into pro football that I recruited…I do know this. I left it in very good shape. I’m not going to say it was better than when I came, or whatever, but I’m just going to tell you that I left in very good shape for years to come. And if people really go back and really do their homework, they’d see that. They’d see Justin Pugh, what’s the quarterback’s name on the Giants? I’m redshirting him and Chandler Jones. And Pugh, I’m the one that was recruiting that guy. He ended up being a first round pick. Mike Williams, you still had in the program. And I could keep going. There was a bunch of them. There was a whole bunch of guys. I feel good about what I did there. I needed to win more games."
Here's the crazy part. He's not entirely wrong. A lot of players who became stars under Doug Marrone and moved on to the NFL were recruiting by Robinson and were his guys first. It does make you wonder if Robinson really could have turned it all around if given another few seasons and then you remember how truly awful things got on Robinson's watch and realize that recruiting wasn't the big issue.
Robinson also wants to make it clear that he doesn't really care about SU fans who think he was terrible. He tried.
"I don’t care. My reputation, let me tell you something. To the people that matter to me, I have a great reputation. First of all, I can tell you this. This I do know. I have an outstanding reputation in the city of Syracuse for the kind of person and the kind of family man that I was with my wife and my kids. In that town, I know we’re highly respected, OK? Highly respected.
I have no regrets. I gave everything I had. It’s just, I ran out of time. That’s the bottom line. I ran out of time. I’ve continued to be successful as a coach and I went to Michigan, I went down to Texas again and had success there. I was successful there at San Jose State, and won that bowl game a couple weeks ago. Our defense played outstanding. I’ve got no regrets.
I get it. I understand the business. I’ve been in it a long time. But there was no lack of respect. I believe that. For people that knew, that knew who I was and knew about me, I don’t even blink, because I know how people felt. I think they wish I would have won more. That’s what I think."
Again, speaking as someone who was glad the day Robinson was relieved of his duties, I respect his feelings. He pulls a bit of a Boeheim and underscores some of the negative things that followed (his tenure at Michigan, which was equally disastrous, not to mention the fact that his career trajectory moved backwards from Texas to San Jose State). But I also don't doubt that Greg felt he was doing everything he could, even if you or I don't agree.
However, Robinson does seem to put a rosier tint on other aspects of his time at SU.
We beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame and then we had (Brian) Kelly and his team at Cincinnati, we had them on the ropes in that game...We had them on the ropes the last game of the season, the end of the fourth quarter, it was nip and tuck.
Notre Dame was coached by Charlie Weis, so... And Syracuse lost that Cincy game 30-10. The Bearcats led 23-3 headed into the fourth quarter. So...no.
The truth is, if you paid attention to Syracuse football during Robinson's tenure, the team tried it's best but it was evident that it was not well-coached, not well-trained and simply not good enough to compete at the FBS level. Certainly not at the major conference level. And all the goodwill in the world doesn't change that.
The article ends with the admission that Robinson is not actually retired, he just stepped away from San Jose State. So the Ballad of Greg Robinson may not be over just yet. Go read the whole piece and the rest of Gregger's comments here.