Like many of you, Doug Marrone both gives me hope and gives me pause. It’s not hard to appreciate a man who so deeply wants to drag the carcass of the Groobers Error into relevance. However, the fact CNY fans will have their first and only glimpse of the Syracuse football team tomorrow is misguided. Here’s my open letter to The Dougie:
I want to first thank you for dousing the raging dumpster fire that was Greg Robinson’s program. You may not know this, but The Fizz was created in part to help get Groobers fired. I wanted to do my part in banging the drum for change. The animosity and soul-sucking misery embodied by this fan base was outrageous. How much hate can you have for a man you don’t even know, simply because he coaches your football team? Plenty. We are a good people. We didn’t deserve the archangel of death (as Chiefs and Wolverine fans know) to set our program back a decade. Groobers, is by the way, still unemployed since he was fired by Michigan over a year ago. Here’s hoping he never gets another job.
So major dap to you Doug. You have, at very least, lifted SU from laughingstock status. No longer do the alumni actively root against the program just to get the coach fired. Your passion for the school is obvious. You are one of us, and understand the DNA of this program and its people. I’ve had the chance to speak with you a handful of times, and the earnestness of your cause is apparent. You sincerely believe you’re the right one to make SU great again, and you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty doing it.
Doug, you’re marking NYC as your territory like a dog pees around his part of the yard. Good job. You’re looking to take advantage of market inefficiencies by closing down the lightly recruited Big Apple, and taking from the surplus of talent in states like Georgia and Florida. You’ve successfully built relationships with high school coaches which were poisoned and left to rot by your predecessor. The addition of Tyrone Wheatley has been a recruiting masterstroke.
You’ve handed down a heavy hand in discipline, suspending and booting athletes who run afoul, even if it hurts your on-field product. We all appreciate that, even if it seems short-sighted at times. But knowing there’s little funny business within the walls of SU football allows us to at least be proud of the goals of the program.
But there are some decisions that leave us scratching our heads. Closing down spring practice from fans and media was silly. If you’re worried about how outsiders label your team, you shouldn’t be. Most are actively rooting for you. If you’re concerned about media distractions of the players, you’re overreacting. With all due respect to CNY, we’re not talking about a sprawling, ruthless media contingent here. This ain’t Tuscaloosa, Columbus or Norman. If you’re worried about a handful of newspaper and website writers, and a pair of sportstalk stations in the college football landscape of 2012, you might be better served in the Colonial Athletic Association.
It took away a chance for the fans to come out and embrace the dawning of a new season. Something you should never take for granted from a fanbase which has been run over by an 18-wheeler many times over. What’s the message you’re sending? They might criticize us, so it’s better to put up walls. You ask your student-athletes to maturely represent this fan base, but they are not equipped to deal with the distractions of an open practice? Don’t be afraid of criticism or people questioning your methods. How much more empowering is the message: We are who we are, and we want you to be part of it.
Why you’re still not calling your own plays also remains a mystery. You learned at the foot of one of the great offenses in the NFL. You were offensive coordinator under Sean Payton, in the same meetings as Drew Brees. You are specifically qualified to run a college attack. This should be Year Four of installing your high-octane spread. Syracuse is at a competitive disadvantage in areas like funding, nearby talent to recruit, and playing in a lower tier conference. Some believe the Dome is outdated and hurting the program. Turn it into an advantage.
Just like in New Orleans, use the climate-controlled fast track of the Dome to run an up tempo offense. You are the ONLY BCS program to play indoors. Use it to your benefit. When defenses come into the Dome, coordinators should be crapping their pants terrified you’re gonna throw 60 times a game and put up video game numbers. It’ll become easier to recruit the big name quarterback like Chad Kelly, and the impact wide receivers. You are the ONLY BCS school that 6-7 times a year never has to worry about wind, rain, or weather. Play fast. Instead, it’s a grinding conservative offense with a parade of coordinators that get eyes rolling every fall. Because running the ball 35 times, not turning it over, and playing good defense is safer.
Tomorrow, Orange Nation should be flocking to the Dome, ready to see an aerial show, having read and heard from their neighbors all spring about this exciting brand of football SU is playing. Instead, Syracuse residents will be see their Orange for the only time all spring, watching a three-yards and a cloud-of-dust offense run by an assistant coach. Doug, you’re the right man for the job and the fan base thanks you for what you’ve already accomplished. But don’t be afraid to be much, much more.
All the best,