Marrone led Syracuse to a 25-25 record during his time there, and capped off a surprising 8-5 2012 season with an even more surprising 38-14 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
A .500 record may not exactly seem like NFL material to most people, but it seems to me that Buffalo is trying to gain support in the surrounding area, and adding a popular coach from a school that is relatively close to home is a great way to do that. The Bills recently reached a deal to keep the team in Buffalo for at least the next seven years, which was likely a reaction to the continuous rumors that the Bills were one of the top candidates to relocate should a current NFL team make the jump to Los Angeles.
The step up for Morrone is a step back for Syracuse, however. The Orange were finally starting to legitimize themselves as a school that doesn’t only play basketball in the Carrie Dome and now they must face the future without the coach that hauled them up out of the basement of the Big East. Replacing a head coach is never easy, but the fact that Syracuse is set to move to the ACC for the 2013 football season makes it all the more difficult. As West Virginia learned this season, stepping out of the Big East and into a big boy conference isn’t all that easy.
The time gap between the end of the NCAA Football regular season and the end of the NFL regular season will also cause problems for Syracuse. The majority of the head coaches worth snatching up from smaller schools have already been poached. Most of the coordinators ready to strap into the driver’s seat have been laid claim to as well. Perhaps the Orange can pull off a reversal of fortunes and snag an NFL coach who has recently found himself out of work.
With Marrone at the helm Syracuse had a bright future, and while it is likely that they would not have been able to keep him around for much longer if he were to continue elevating the play of the Orange football team, losing him at this particular time hurts a little something extra. If I were a Syracuse fan, I would strap in for a bumpy first few years in the ACC. On the plus side, at least you snuck out of the Big East before it folds.