In the days leading up to each SU football game, The Juice Online will address questions about the team in our “Kickoff Countdown” segment.
Today’s question: Syracuse stands at 5-5 on the season and needs just one more win to qualify for a bowl game. But what if they don’t? What kind of effect would a 5-7 season have for Doug Marrone with his contract expiring after 2014?
It wasn’t too long ago when Syracuse started the season 1-3 and there were serious questions about whether Orange coach Doug Marrone was on the hot seat.
With an upset win of No. 9 Louisville on Saturday, those questions seemed to have faded. But, while they’re dormant, they could resurface, especially if Syracuse loses both of its remaining games, and falls to 5-7.
That would put Syracuse in a predicament. Marrone’s contract only runs through 2014, and you’ve seen the kind of effect a one-year deal has had on Jim Calhoun’s successor, Kevin Ollie, with recruiting.
The Orange will need to make a decision, one way or the other, at the end of this season.
We here at The Juice Online pondered the question of the worst-case scenario for Marrone this season, and wondered if a second straight 5-7 season would jeopardize a contract extension to avoid a lame duck status.
The answer was overwhelmingly ‘Yes,” but what’s interesting is the different reasons for why.
Our editor in chief, Brad Bierman, cited recruiting. Columnist Nate Federman used the baseball statistic “Wins Above Replacement” to push for an extension. Meanwhile, columnist Jim Stechschulte just looks back at the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named era, and notes the dramatic improvement.
Here’s what each had to say:
Bierman: AD Daryl Gross believes in Marrone’s plan
In the end it’s a no brainer because of recruiting, plain and simple. You need the right talent to win, and at a smaller private school in the Snow Belt like Syracuse, that takes a minimum of five years, closer to seven.
Sure, no bowl invite would be a huge blow to a talented 2012 team that should logically be 6-4, or dare we say 7-3, heading into Saturday night’s stern test at SEC foe Missouri before the post Thanksgiving Temple finale.
And yes, only a 3-10 record in November/December regular season games during the four-year Marrone era is not what bowl games are looking for to extend an invitation.
But Marrone will be back because Daryl Gross believes in his plan.
The Orange AD sees the recruiting results, and to do anything but send a signal of consistency in the program’s leadership, especially before embarking on the new road to the ACC, would topple all of the work that has been done the last three years plus on the recruiting trail.
Federman: Name one coach that would do better in Syracuse
My argument for a contract extension is simple: what is the likelihood that we, Syracuse University (a basketball school in a rust-belt town, with a seemingly endless winter, and not much money to throw at a new head coach), wind up with someone better than Doug?
Nick Saban is not coming to Syracuse. Chip Kelly is not coming to Syracuse. Les Miles is not coming to Syracuse.
If Marrone isn’t brought back, we’re not replacing him with a proven winner. Period. And for those who say we should mine the FCS (or D2 or D3) for an on-the-rise coach we can afford, what is the likelihood that would pan out for us?
There seem to be a lot more Turner Gills, Skip Holtzs, and Greg Robinsons than there are Chip Kellys. Marrone’s wins versus (likely) replacement is enough of a reason to give him an extension. But if you need another, look at what happened to UCONN with Randy Edsall; he managed to turn their program around… and then promptly left for a slightly more appealing coaching job at Maryland.
This is Doug’s dream job; he eats, drinks, and breathes Syracuse football (along with copious amounts of bologna and Gatorade). If he’s successful in turning our program around, he’s not going anywhere, and that kind of loyalty matters if Syracuse football doesn’t want to be in a constant state of attempting to rebuild with yet another new coach.
And that’s exactly what Syracuse will be forced to do if we lose Marrone. Rebuild. Again. With absolutely no assurances the next guy, whomever he may be, will do any better. Whether we make a bowl this year or not, it’s clear our program is slowly on the rise and we should do everything in our power to make sure it continues on its upward trajectory, and that means extending Doug’s contract.
Stechschulte: Syracuse was in shambles before Marrone arrived
A contract extension for Doug Marrone following a 5-7 finish is a battle of short-term appearances versus long-term picture and there is a lot of context to be considered instead of simply two numbers separated by a hyphen. Three losing seasons in four years, including a pair of 5-7 marks on the heels of a bowl win, suggests Marrone is good, but not good enough. However, when Marrone was hired, the program was in shambles.
Here is one fact to sum up the team’s current 5-5 mark: Each of Syracuse’s losses has come to a school that has sewn up bowl eligibility with at least two games remaining on its schedule. Should SU drop its final two games, Missouri would be bowl eligible and Temple could be if they were able to schedule a 12th game (with another shot at getting a sixth win – this assumes a win over 2-8 Army, as well).
Clearly, Marrone has taken one of the worst programs in the FBS (home loss to Akron, getting swept in a home-and-home series with Miami of Ohio, scraping by Northeastern at home) and has made it a middle-of-the-road program without the benefits of being in a recruiting hotbed or stellar facilities to aid the turnaround.
From a wider perspective, the entire program is in significantly better shape and it needs stability moving into the ACC next season. Marrone cannot properly sell his program to recruits, continue working behind-the-scenes to improve the facilities, or tweak his coaching staff as well as he could with the security of a contract extension.
At a time when this rising program stepping up in competition (the new Big East has been stripped of its automatic BCS bid while the ACC is maintaining theirs), it needs stability to stay on its upward path toward long term success.
Those are our thoughts. What are yours?