Football

Buffalo Bills introduce Doug Marrone as head coach; Daryl Gross, Nancy Cantor release statements

Marrone went 25-25 in four years as Syracuse head coach

Andrew Renneisen | Staff Photographer

Doug Marrone removes his hat as he walks toward the end zone following Syracuse's Pinstripe Bowl victory Dec. 29.

The Buffalo Bills formally introduced Doug Marrone as head coach Monday, effectively ending his four-year tenure as Syracuse head coach.

Marrone was introduced as the Bill’s head coach at a press conference in Orchard Park, N.Y., where Bills President Russ Brandon welcomed him to the podium.

At the podium, Marrone thanked Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Athletic Director Daryl Gross and Board of Trustees Chairman Dick Thompson before discussing his new job.

“I had said that Syracuse was my dream job,” Marrone said in the press conference, which was broadcast live on the NFL Network, “and I meant that when I said it. Having an opportunity to restore the tradition of Syracuse football made my dream a reality.

“Today, I’m experiencing another dream come true. I moved on from Syracuse to be with this outstanding organization.”

Marrone, who before taking over at Syracuse spent seven years as an assistant with the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, leaves SU after going 25-25 in four seasons at the helm. He took Syracuse to two bowls in three years, winning both, and pulled the Orange up from an abysmal 10-37 stretch during four years with Greg Robinson as head coach.

He faces a similar resurrection project with the Bills. Buffalo went 6-10 this season before firing Chan Gailey, and has not made the playoffs since 1999.

“I had some opportunities to make a choice and I’ve chosen to be here,” Marrone said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach. I can’t tell you how excited I am for my family and I to move up here. We’re looking forward to it.”

For Syracuse, the Orange now have a large hole to fill in Marrone’s place. Marrone is the first coach to leave on his own terms since Dick MacPherson left the Orange to become head coach of the New England Patriots in 1991.

Gross, Cantor and Thompson all expressed their gratitude to Marrone through statements released by SU Athletics.

“Doug has restored Syracuse football to its rightful place and we are appreciative of the foundation he has laid on and off the field for the future success of the program,” Gross said. “We wish him the absolute best in his opportunity in the NFL. We look forward to improving on our success, as we have great momentum heading into the ACC. We will put a head coach in place who will continue down the successful path we are on.”

After the press conference, on WGR 550, a Buffalo radio station, Marrone said he would meet with the SU team this weekend.

Marrone was asked about hiring a team of coordinators and assistants and if he would bring anyone from Syracuse, but did not go into detail about who he would like to have on his staff. He emphasized the NFL experience necessary to be a coordinator at that level.

Marrone was a hot name in the NFL coaching search, having interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and received interest from multiple other teams. But he chose the Bills, and discussed having spent most of his career in New York, from being a kid in the Bronx to playing and coaching at Syracuse.

And now, Buffalo.

“Now with my dream of being an NFL head coach, again within this state,” Marrone said. “And it means a lot to me.”

Marrone was asked if the NFL head coaching opportunities were something that came up during the season, but he said he kept his nose to the ground and focused on his current job, rather than looking for the next opportunity.

In their statements, Cantor and Thompson expressed support for both Marrone and for Gross, as he embarks on his third search for a football head coach in less than a decade on the job.

“We are fully committed to continuing SU football’s successful trajectory and the commitment, work ethic, integrity, and support for the personal and academic development of our student-athletes that Doug and his coaching staff embedded in the program,” Cantor and Thompson said in the statement. “Moving forward, we have full confidence in Dr. Daryl Gross to find the right successor to build on this success.”

Marrone said his work to improve the Bills starts Monday.

“As soon as we’re done here, we’re going right to work,” he said. “And again, it’s a lot of responsibility. I feel I’m the best person for this job.”

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