It's been a few days since the whirlwind announcement of Doug Marrone as the next head football coach at Syracuse University. You'll find this hard to believe, but in between swigs of Yuengling and a lot of bad food, I've been thinking a lot about the hire.
My initial reaction was skepticism. On paper Marrone doesn't have the pedigree or accomplishments of some of the other candidates out there. He isn't as bad as Gene Chizik, but guys like Turner Gill, Skip Holtz and Randy Edsall have already proven they can run winning programs. However, a funny thing happened over the next couple of days - Marrone talked and I listened, and then listened some more. And you know what? I liked what I heard. Screw that, I LOVED what I heard.
And I heard that Marrone is a guy with a plan. He's a guy with a take charge attitude. He's got an air of confidence about him. He comes off as meticulously prepared and burning with desire. He loves Syracuse and I am officially drinking the Doug Marrone Kool Aid. Actually I'm guzzling it by the gallon. Shit, if Marrone Kool Aid was carbonated I'd shotgun it.
His hiring reminds me of one that happened a decade before - when the Eagles hired Andy Reid. There are a ton of similarities between how both became head coaches.
When the Eagles hired Reid, the were coming off a 3-13 disaster of a season. Ray Rhodes had made a mess of the team, who started the season with Bobby Hoying as their QB and ended it with the artist known as Koy Detmer under center. These were dark times in Eagle-land.
With the coaching search underway, they brought in a little known quarterbacks coach from the Packers named Andy Reid for an interview. The story is now well known, but it's worth repeating. Reid went into the interview and blew the Eagles brass away with the thoroughness for which he had prepared to become a head coach. He kept detailed, organized binders laying out a plan for how to build a team and get them to the Superbowl. He was prepared for success and consequently won the job over people with bigger names and bigger resumes. Two years later the Eagles were playing in the NFC Championship game.
The similarities to the Marrone hire are many. Marrone was also an under the radar type of candidate. He prepared thoroughly for the opportunity, right down to compiling binders like Reid had done a decade before. Like Reid, he's a former offensive lineman who has never called plays before being elevated to a head coaching position.
The similiarities continue. Both coached prolific quarterbacks (Brees for Marrone, Farve for Reid) and came from offenses that scored oodles of points. Both hirings were at least on some level surprising. The only thing I don't know about is whether Marrone has a wife that's a third of his size like Reid does.
The whole point here is that even though I wanted Reid fired a couple of weeks ago, he's had an extremely successful run as the Eagles head coach - especially his first five years - and Marrone's hire gives me hope that he can do the same things for Syracuse.
While SU didn't land the biggest name, they did land a man with the biggest plan, and there's a precedence for this type of preparation working out well. Only time will tell whether or not Marrone can get it done, but here's hoping things work out as well for Doug as they did for another former offensive lineman who got hired in Philly a decade before.