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Syracuse & Doug Marrone are Making a Mistake Closing Spring Practice

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Syracuse football fans are confused, wondering why Doug Marrone insists on blacking out the media from Spring Practice outside of a measly two scrimmages? The program obviously doesn’t have the cache of power schools that consider Spring Football to be a second season (go ask the SEC about Spring Games).

SU doesn’t sell out the Dome, and the Orange don’t exactly strike fear into the heart of its opponents with elaborate offensive schemes that must be kept a secret. The athletic department is trying to keep up with the Joneses, searching aggressively for more donations to build a competitive football facility. Wouldn’t it make sense to help build excitement instead of squash it?

This isn’t an attack on Marrone, because he’s always been gracious to media and fans, and clearly cares deeply about Syracuse. However, this decision feels desperate and perhaps even reflects a pinch of panic for a team that collapsed to end last year. Marrone says his concern is over people mislabeling his team, but that should be far from his worries.

Why does Marrone care how the media and fans “label” his team? Why lose sleep over something so trivial? He’s built up goodwill among the press and Orange Nation for dragging the carcass of a program out of the graveyard that was the Groobers Error. He knows the pressures of the NFL, and has been on the sidelines for much bigger moments than a Tuesday afternoon practice on South Campus.

Does Marrone get a pass because expectations are low, and our focus is diverted by a championship caliber basketball program? Louisville’s Charlie Strong attempted a similar media blackout because he was upset about a lack of coverage. It blew up in his face and he recently had to end his posturing. Marrone would be wise to follow suit.

It’s counter-productive in several ways. There’s an old saying in the South: “We got two sports – football and spring football.” Big time programs use the spring as a marketing tool, a chance to create buzz and anticipation for the upcoming season. Alabama draws twice as many fans to its Spring Game as SU usually has for a Big East matchup. Practices are controlled, and the game culminates in a glorified scrimmage where every player looks terrific. 

If people are interested in a team that lost 5 straight in an epic collapse to end the year, Marrone should welcome them with open arms. A program that barely draws 40,000 fans to games, and has one lonely bowl appearance in a decade should be supportive of anyone who still cares. This isn’t SU basketball where 30,000 fans show up every night, win or lose. Marrone should be making a concerted effort to embrace all media coverage and fan interest.

Fizz Football Notes:

  • Deon Goggins has switched to defensive end. SU desperately needs some pressure off the edge with the loss of Chan Jones and so many pieces from the front 7. Hopefully, he can provide that.
  • Ashton Broyld needs to get snaps at QB. The coaching staff has already tried him at RB with poor results. Get him under center, and let’s see what his athleticism can do.
  • The offense has got to open up. Marrone has experience with the high-flying Saints offense in a controlled environment like the SuperDome. He could attempt to recreate that at SU, but has totally shied away from it.
  • The most interesting position battle is in the backfield. There’s obvious talent back there in Prince Tyson Gulley, George Morris, Adonis Ameen Moore, and Jerome Smith. SU has enough high-end players to make an impact next season.
  • My expectations are low. This team has a very tough schedule in its final Big East season. I’m predicting only 4 or 5 wins right now.

Posted: Alex Plavin

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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