Who knew the Big East had turned into the cradle of NFL head coaches? Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but still, just one year after Greg Schiano left Rutgers to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Syracuse’s Doug Marrone was named the Buffalo Bills new head coach on Sunday morning.
The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Marrone leaves his alma mater after four years at the school, in which he rebuilt one of major college football’s worst programs back into respectability.
The Orange went 10-37 in four years under Marrone’s predecessor Greg Robinson (including 5-19 in the two years prior to Marrone’s arrival), but Marrone, a former Syracuse lineman, quickly turned the program around, winning four games in his first year and making bowls in both his second and fourth seasons. Marrone leaves Syracuse with a 25-25 overall record, and his final game will go down as one of his best coaching performances at the school, in a 38-14 Pinstripe Bowl victory over West Virginia.
For Marrone, a coaching gig in the NFL always seemed like a real possibility, if only because that’s where his roots were prior to arriving at Syracuse.
Marrone came to the Big East after a successful three-year run from 2006 to 2008 as the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator and spent every season from 2002-2008 in the league. It probably didn’t help Marrone to know that as much as he loved his alma mater (Marrone once called the Syracuse gig “the only head coaching job I’ve ever wanted”), Syracuse has become an increasingly tougher place to win as the sport of college football has evolved. The Carrier Dome is a decaying building, Syracuse’s facilities lag behind most of the schools they compete with, and located smack-dab in the middle of upstate New York, there is no natural recruiting base for the program to draw from.
Those facts will also make it that much harder to find a new head coach as the school gets set to transition to the ACC next year. Names that have been floated around for the open Orange job include current defensive coordinator Scot Shafer and current offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
If the school is looking to go outside its coaching tree, former FIU coach Mario Cristobal is still on the market and has ties to the Northeast, having previously coached at Rutgers.
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