In a surreal press conference this afternoon, Doug Marrone casually announced Mike Williams had entered his office earlier in the morning and quit the football team.
Now, we know there’s a policy not to speak about any athletes not with the program. And no one player is bigger than the team. And part of this is damage control.
But perennial enigma, recently suspended, previously-in-hiding, would-be NFL draftee-slash-best player on the team Mike Williams just ups and quits and it’s mentioned in the same breath as third-down efficiency?
And you expect the local media and fans to simply swallow that and move forward?
Sorry coach, doesn’t work that way.
Listen for yourself: Marrone begins the presser commenting in circular fashion about the booing Greg Paulus received at the Dome Saturday. At the 5:00 mark he throws in the Williams announcement. Most of the media nervously laugh at the absurdly non-chalant nature of that bombshell. Marrone unsuccessfully attempts to paint a picture of team unity and focusing on the next opponent. Around 7:30, Coach Mac (somewhat embarrassingly) scolds the media for attempting to question Marrone about Williams. What is left is mostly 12 minutes of convoluted logic, unspoken tension and an overall uneasy feeling about this program.
This is not Syracuse football’s high point.
While Marrone is certainly not alone in dealing unsuccessfully with the talented Williams, one has to wonder what lies ahead for SU’s first-year head coach.
While the football itself has seemed to improve from last year’s edition, Marrone has stepped on a number of land mines along the way (some planted by himself).
He was arguably selected as no better than the seventh candidate on Dr. Gross’ wish list. He gutted most of the roster in the offseason, running off many recruits from the previous staff. Fundamentally sloppy football at times. One of the single-worst passing defenses in the country. The booing of Greg Paulus. And now the abrupt suspension and dismissal of Williams.
It would be hard to blame Orange Nation for lacking confidence in this shaken program right now. While it’s certainly possible Marrone is indeed the right man to turn things around, this has been all-too choppy waters in Year One.
The Dome is half-empty. The head coach is lamenting the booing of a hometown star. And the best player on the team startlingly bounces on the team just a month from the end of the season.
Doug Marrone: Your move.