Thursday, August 30, 2012

A First Look at Doug Marrone's Pre Game Talk

It's all about composure.

Don't lose to a team that wears purple.

The good guys host Northwestern this Saturday at high noon in the let's hope it's not a sea of silver in front of a national TV audience Carrier Dome Loud House.

Losing to a purple-clad opponent is just unacceptable.   It's like losing to...





Don't lose to these guys.

Here They Go Again....

The Big East looks to get bigger.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Job Security

Original Photo: Frank Ordonez, The Post Standard

Doug Marrone's Most Important Year

A tremendous year for Doug Marrone means a new contract

The Syracuse football season kicks off in mere days when the Northwestern Wildcats come to the Dome to face the Orange. The last time Pat Fitzgerald's Wildcats came to town, Greg Paulus and company handed them a defeat that was sealed when current Eagles quarterback Mike Kafka was picked off late in the game. That game marked Doug Marrone's first win as the head coach of the Syracuse program.

So it seems fitting that as the 2012 season kicks off with Northwestern again coming to town, Doug Marrone enters his most important year as at the helm of the Syracuse program. The promise that was felt after that first thrilling 37-34 victory has given way to uncertainty that was fueled by a 5 game losing streak to end last year and a 6-15 overall record in the Big East conference.

Granted, Greg Robinson left a bigger mess to clean up than Hurricane Irene did, so it was unrealistic to expect an immediate turn around, but it's fair to say questions about Marrone's long-term viability linger.

Those questions are exacerbated by the fact that Marrone is now entering the fourth year of a five year contract. It goes without saying that every year is important for a coach,  however for Marrone, this is his contract year. No college coach goes into the last year of his contract without an extension for one simple reason -- recruiting is a dirtier game than playing spin the bottle with the cast of the Jersey Shore.

Recruiting the the cast of the Jersey Shore are more similar than you think

Any administration that sends its coach into contract year with uncertainty hanging over his status is inviting disaster. Opposing coaches use that uncertainty to fill prospective recruits with so much doubt over the direction of a program that Marrone wouldn't be able to convince his own kid to come play for him.

So, when this season is complete, the University will have to decide how much more time Doug Marrone has to complete his mission of resurrecting a once proud program. Most reasonable people would agree that unless there's a complete collapse on the field or Doug goes to Bobby Petrino motorcycle school, he isn't getting fired after this year.

The job was a complete rebuild and no matter how you cut it, and that takes time. We've seen demonstrable progress in a number of areas, and to borrow a phrase from politics, its clear SU football program is better off now than it was four years ago.

The question is how much better and what's the upside of the guy running the show? Is Marrone the guy that turns this progress into a consistent winner - or is he a guy in the Gary Kubiak/Norv Turner mold - guys who win just enough games to avoid getting fired?

Syracuse has to decide that and complicating the evaluation is the fact that the Orange have lined up one of its toughest schedules in years and only play five true home games. Getting a read on progress given that set of circumstances is going to be exponentially more difficult.

Of course, Marrone can erase all doubt by engineering a winning season, both overall and in conference, and a bowl berth. If he does that, there's no doubt Dr. Gross will be glad to hand him a long-term extension.

Where it gets murky is if the Orange do what the world expects them to do - and finishes in the 4-8 to 6-6 range. If that occurs, this idiot is speculating that a two year extension is the most likely outcome. That will give the coach three years left on his contract and two years full years in the ACC before we end up back at this point again.

That's not going to rebuild a depleted fan base that's spent the better part of a decade watching this team fail to achieve, but at the same time it will give a coach who truly wants to be here and has made progress to date a fair shot. If this team is 6-6 or 5-7 in year six, it's time to move on.

For Doug Marrone, the future is now. It should be fun to watch. Go Orange.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scenes From Old SU Game Programs

This ad is 29 years old, but I swear I still see this gear on a lot of people at the Dome.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Who Says Internet Polls are Unreliable?

While checking out NBC Sports' college football conference preview, I joined in on their poll titled, "Which is the Best BCS Conference?"    The Big East is running neck-and-neck with the SEC.   That seems right.

Google Hates the Pistol Offense

While I was doing a little research for the last post, and on this web site "research" means plugging absurd search terms into Google, I looked up the words "football bad offense." The first thing that came up is the Pistol Offense. You SU fans might remember it as the scheme used in year four of the Robinson debacle - which is fitting.

Dave Rahme's Latest Article Terrifies Me

This photo is on the second page of a Google image search for offensive futility

Welcome to the middle of August, when every football team is undefeated and every fan base thinks their team will be great.....or is at least hopeful their team won't be terrible (this does not apply to Cleveland Browns fans).

That's certainly the case with this year's Syracuse Orange team. While the team is picked to finish seventh in the Big East, we are hopeful this year resembles 2010, when no one expected the Orange to do anything and the team surprised and finished the season with eight wins.

And the media coverage, as is generally the case with all teams, has been positive and highlights far more good than bad. Case in point, today we've got glowing reports about JuCo defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster that actually compares him to Dwight Freeney.

Obviously Marrone has had to completely rebuild the program and I'm personally of the opinion he's done a decent job and is on the right track. However, his biggest deficiency to date, and again, in my opinion a big reason why fans are still staying away from the Dome, has been his failure to implement a consistent, or even exciting offense. You can get away with a really conservative approach when you're winning games. When you're not, people aren't going to rally around off-tackle runs for no gain and tight end drags.

So, not to overreact, but when I read Dave Rahme's observations from Fort Drume (as of 9:17 am the Post Standard still has this misspelled), I got a little nervous, because the story contained all the classic hallmarks of the offensive futility that has plagued the Orange under Marrone's otherwise capable leadership.

Let's review and break down some specifics:

Perhaps the tone was set earlier during a red-zone scrimmage when normally sure-handed tight end David Stevens dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib (Stevens atoned for the error a few plays later). 
For years we've seen this team miss opportunities when it really needs them via the dropped pass. Whether its a dropped a ball in the end zone again, a key drop on third down to keep the drive alive, or a missed deep ball, SU hasn't capitalized. This team isn't the Patriots, opportunities to score don't come in bunches.

 Maybe it was set when offensive tackle Lou Alexander jumped ahead of the snap count.
Michael Hay flashback anyone?

Maybe it was set when backup quarterback Charley Loeb misread a receiver’s cut and lobbed an interception directly into the hands of cornerback Jaston George in the end zone.
This is known as the Greg Paulus special.

Nassib and junior tight end Beckett Wales continue to be on the same page. Wales is the “hot read” on a lot of plays, and he and Nassib are developing great chemistry in turning potential sacks into productive gains.
All I can think about when I read this is the last two years of Nassib running for his life and then dumping the ball to Nick Provo for a two yard gain. This isn't the cornerstone of an offense that can stretch the field.

All we were missing in this story were reports of Ryan Nassib overthrowing every receiver who ran a route longer than 10 yards and it would be last year all over again.

I fully realize it was one day in a long preseason camp -- so let's hope it was just that, one day. Otherwise, Markus Pierce-Brewster really will have to be Dwight Freeney for this team to have any shot this year.

Now that I've overreacted to something trivial even though I said I wouldn't, we now return you to our regularly scheduled program of old SU programs, eBay's greatest hits, and writing dopey captions on pictures.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Scenes From Old SU Game Programs

We're just over two weeks out from the home opener against Northwestern.   To get us into the football spirit, T3I's crack research team has gone into our archives and found some of the best snapshots from old SU Football game programs.

Before Brett Favre, Tony Dorsett made Lee jeans and 99 yard touchdown runs fashionable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everyone is on the South Florida Depth Chart

Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports that South Florida Head Coach Skip Holtz has listed 57 players on his initial two-deep depth chart. For those of you that are mathetically challenged, Skip put nearly enough players on this list to go three-deep at every position on offense and defense. That leads us to only one conclusion:

Ebay Item of the Week: A Marvin By Any Other Name

What's not to love about this "1988 Syracuse WR Marvin Harrison Wire Photo" that's our Ebay Item of the Week?  Other than the fact that it's clearly West Virginia QB Major Harris and that in 1988 Marvin Harrison was 16yo, I see nothing wrong with it.

Mel Kiper breaks down the real Marvin:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Donnie Henderson is Pleased to be Headed to the ACC

Syracuse secondary coach Donnie Henderson is happy that this is SU's last season in the Big East.

Photo: Frank Ordonez/The Post Standard

Doug Marrone Laughs at Your Schedule

As you know by now, Doug Marrone has taken the Syracuse football team to Fort Drum to practice for a week in preparation for a season that has his team playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. So when a pictures of Doug surface wearing all a 10th Mountain Division jersey, we decided to kick it up a notch.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ebay Item of the Week: Magnum PI, Olympian

We're going "all-in" with our Olympic spirit.  Actor Tom Selleck shows his American pride, and the spirit of 1984, in this week's Ebay Item of the Week.

Let's take you back to one of the greatest TV openers of the '80s:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Separated at Birth

While watching Chilean gymnast Tomas Gonazalez last night I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen him someplace before.....and then it hit me, when he's not performing in the Olympics he's probably on-line chatting with babes.

Long lost brothers - Tomas Gonzalez and Kip from Napoleon Dynamite

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Random Olympic Thoughts

I can totally handle getting into the Olympic spirit every four years.  A week in, here are my quick thoughts on London 2012 so far.

*  Am I the only one that really doesn't get the big deal over the tape delay fiasco?

* My 5 year old son is fascinated watching synchronized diving.   While watching the women's competition the other night he asked me this as the Chinese divers took the platform, "Daddy are those boys?"  Next question son.

* College football is on my mind:  If the SEC were an Olympic event, it would be the 100m sprint (speed, showcase event).

* If the Big East were an Olympic event it would be the modern pentathlon (pistol shooting, cross country running, swimming and show jumping go together like Boise State, San Diego State, Central Florida and Rutgers).

* While flipping through some handball action,  I was overjoyed to hear  Celtics announcer Mike Gorman doing the play-by-play.   Fans of '80s Big East broadcasts will remember him as the voice of Big East Network games and ESPN's Big Monday.  I'd be shocked to learn "broadcast international handball competition" was on Mike's bucket list.  Still it's great to hear that voice again. "Denmaaaahhhk, time out!"

* After a trip to the water park with my little guy last week, I'm determined to make competitive water sliding an Olympic event.  Water luge anyone?

* Carmelo really thrives in the international game.

* There was a guy in the rifle competition that looked a lot like former Yankee Hideki Irabu.

*  Water polo looks like a lot of fun to play (in my in-laws' pool where I can touch bottom).

*   I'm still waiting for the Really Rottens team to try and sabotage an event or two: