Orange Watch: The first step of literally rebuilding the Syracuse football program

As we wrote last week, the move from the Big East to the ACC is just a year away for Orange athletics. AD Daryl Gross’ vision for the department included hiring experienced, long trusted professional colleagues to his senior staff (which occurred shortly before last September’s abrupt move to the ACC), along with additions in many other departments currently understaffed covering everything from fundraising to multi-media.

One of those senior executive additions last summer, ex-Orange Hall of Famer Floyd Little, has worked with Gross on the other important component of the overall visualization heading into the new conference. He’s targeting the potential donors needed for the capital to build out the new buildings and modernize the existing structures to keep the ‘Cuse football facilities relevant in the arms race with its soon-to-be ACC brethren.

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Sexy, state-of-the-art facilities bring in better recruits. Better talent is what wins games, and it’s the direction Doug Marrone has been heading slowly but surely in each of his four recruiting classes, increasing the talent base annually.

So it came as no surprise with Thursday’s university announcement that while the sustained winning records haven’t yet materialized to produce the kind of donations needed to construct the much coveted 100-yard indoor practice facility, there will be a serious upgrade of the football compound at Manley Field House.

After all, there’s no denying just how beneficial the Melo Center has been for the basketball program’s recruiting since it opened its doors in Sept. 2009. The football complex needs the same “wow” factor for impressionable, multi-star recruits who the Orange will likely be battling for with many of their new ACC rivals.

“It is time that we do something spectacular for football,” Gross said in a statement publicizing the $5 million project that will modernize many elements including locker rooms, training and academic facilities, player lounges, an auditorium, and the Hall of Fame lobby honoring greats of the program’s past.

“We have the Carmelo Anthony Center on one side of the Manley complex, and the new football renovated facility, with an obvious entrance, will be the cornerstone on the other side.”

For Marrone, said to be privately disappointed that the full field indoor project is on hold, any facility improvement is critical to his recruiting pitch to sought-after blue chippers.

“The renovations to our facility will directly impact the accomplishments of our football program, as well as provide an enormous positive effect on our recruiting endeavors,” Marrone said prior to Saturday’s spring game in the Dome. “We truly appreciate the support of our donors who have supported this project.”

Work is expected to begin next month and be completed prior to the start of the 2012 season on Sept. 1 against Northwestern.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.