About the same time Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf were taking the Syracuse men's basketball team to the NCAA Tournament, Doug Marrone was stepping in to the Syracuse football offices as the new head football coach.
Marrone is stepping into a tough situation. The Orangemen's talent base has eroded, as has the fan base. Marrone wishes he could get the kind of crowds into the Carrier Dome for football that Jim Boeheim draws for basketball.
Just a few months into his tenure, Marrone looks to be doing all the right things to turn it around.
Publicity is key when rebuilding a program, and he landed a big PR getter in former Duke point guard Greg Paulus. Whether he makes an impact this year or not, it made a statement that Marrone will do anything to win.
Greg Robinson struggled to maintain any kind of stability on offense, as he ran through quarterbacks and the like with frightening pace.
Marrone will pick a quarterback and stick with him. When rebuilding a program, he understands the need for one, strong face at the front of the team. It helps both in the locker room and on the field.
No one is expecting much from the Orangemen this year, as they shouldn't. Marrone just hasn't had the time to recruit the talent needed.
He'll need to get back into Pennsylvania and grab the top players that New York produces.
So far, he is doing a great job of reconnecting with the fan base. The 'Cuse fan base is frenetic at the peak. Back during the Donovan McNabb days and up through the Dwight Freeney years, the Carrier Dome was an intimidating place to play.
It took maybe college football's most electrifying player in history, Michael Vick, for Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer to get his first win ever in the Carrier Dome.
Luckily for the 'Cuse, it's a time of transition in the Big East. Cincinnati looks like a stable program and Rutgers has been solid since their rebirth a couple years ago. South Florida returns Matt Grothe and George Selvie and should be a contender.
But other than that, it's up in the air. Is UCONN ready to compete year in and year out? Is West Virginia ready to be without Pat White? Can Pittsburgh breakthrough with LeSean McCoy? Louisville seems toast.
All that means there is plenty of opportunities for Marrone to change the perception of the Syracuse program. That process as already started.
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