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Marrone takes charge of SU football

More than two decades ago, a young man from the Bronx came upstate, to Syracuse, and played vital role in revitalizing the Orange football program.

Now Doug Marrone is charged with that exact same task as the new SU head football coach, the first alum in 60 years to assume this high-pressure position.

Following weeks of speculation and the pursuit of big names that had already proven themselves as college head coaches, athletic director Daryl Gross chose Marrone, whose latest job had been as offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

At his introductory news conference last Friday, Marrone, who reportedly got a five-year, $6.5-million contract, made clear that the failures of the four-year Greg Robinson regime were something he would not tolerate.

"The players understand that we are not in a rebuilding process," he said. "We are not in a rebuilding process. We are in the process of rejuvenating this program. I don't have any options. I cannot fail. My only option is to win, and that's what I'm here to do."

As with Robinson, Marrone had not served any time as a head coach before coming to Syracuse, but that's where the similarities end. He is younger (44), more energetic, and carries the crucial asset of being a one-time SU player with the full blessing of past teammates and other Orange alumni.

After Robinson was fired early in November, Gross put together a panel that included SU trustees, former coach Dick MacPherson and ex-players like Floyd Little, Art Monk and Tim Green to pick a successor.

Initially, the focus was on Randy Edsall, the Connecticut head coach who, like Marrone, played under MacPherson in the 1980s at SU. But Edsall would not budge from Storrs, despite repeated attempts to go after him.

Not long after that, two other favorites emerged -- Skip Holtz, who led East Carolina to the Conference USA championship, and Turner Gill, who engineered the turnaround of Buffalo into Mid-American Conference champions.

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