Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Syracuse Football Adding By Subtraction

Doug Marrone has been cleaning house since he took over the Syracuse football program in December. Gone from the GRob era of Syracuse Football are 21 scholarship players (25% of the 85 maximum NCAA allotment) who either weren’t buying what Marrone was selling or simply couldn’t cut it in the new Syracuse era of accountability.

Included on the casualty list is star receiver Mike William’s who decided to hang it up following a post game visit and subsequent car accident outside of the Turning Stone Casino near Syracuse on November 1st. While I am sure that many of these departures as well as the 2-2 start (including a 37-34 win over the now 7-4 Northwestern) caused hope for the future, the injury bug over the past several games has not been kind to Marrone and the Orange. Gone for the year are nine players on both sides of the ball including All Big East DT Arthur Jones who suffered his season ending knee injury during the November 7th Pittsburgh game in which Syracuse was able to travel with just 55 healthy players.

Staring into what has now become a 3-7 record with Rutgers and UConn left on the schedule, most coaches would have resigned the season and begun preparing the team and its younger players for the future. That kind of “sacrifice now for the future” attitude just isn’t part of Marrone’s make up though.

“We're still going out there to win games, not to give people experience for next year,” Marrone said. “It's not next year until the last game is over. The way people are getting experience now on this team is through injury."

The kind of attitude Marrone is trying to instill in this team comes from what he learned as a player under Dick MacPherson during the early 1980’s.

“I've always played to win," Marrone said. "I think this team will always play to win. Coach Mac ... I don't want to speak for Coach Mac, but we always played to win. I think that's what you do here at Syracuse - you play to win."

It wasn’t too long ago that a 34 year old first time coach came into Piscataway with the same kind of rhetoric talking about winning the Big East and going to bowl games. We all thought that guy was crazy when he got up at his introductory press conference and started talking about his vision of the State of Rutgers. We all know it can happen and why can’t it happen again. After all, a good, competitive Syracuse would be a good thing for the Big East.


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