Football

Gross wishes Marrone well with the Bills, looks to move fast on finding replacement

Syracuse Athletic Director Daryl Gross said Monday he’s happy for Doug Marrone, and is looking to “move fast” on naming a new head coach.

Gross spoke on ESPN CNY’s “Upon Further Review” and said Marrone had a good opportunity to leave to be the head coach for the Buffalo Bills, and it was the right move for him to make.

“What a great opportunity for him,” Gross said. “When you’re coaching football, the pinnacle for a lot of coaches is to make for NFL.”

Marrone, who leaves Syracuse after four seasons, built up a record of 25-25. He led the Orange to two Pinstripe Bowl victories. But before coming to Syracuse, he spent seven years coaching in the NFL, including three as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints.

It was at that time, Gross said, that former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian told him he should hire Marrone because he was ready to be a head coach in the NFL even then.

“It’s something that he’s probably had on his bucket list of things to do. He got the opportunity,” Gross said. “He was one of the hottest commodities out there, I totally got that and understood that for a long time.”

Gross said he would be more disappointed if Marrone left for another college program like Ohio State or Michigan. But the Syracuse athletic director said Marrone leaving for the NFL is a positive development for both him and the program.

Gross said Marrone had stability and a “long-term contract,” with Syracuse. He said there were no issues between Marrone and SU. He did say, though, that fans’ support for the program might not have been to the level Marrone hoped.

“I do think that there is a sense that he felt like folks didn’t always, I don’t know what the percentage is, it’s probably a minority, but some folks didn’t get what was happening,” Gross said. “We had a very entertaining team this year and I think he was disappointed in some regards because this is his alma mater, and he just thought that people would get behind it a little bit more.”

As far as who becomes the next head coach at Syracuse, Gross said he’s looking to move quickly to make the hire. He stressed that Syracuse is heading in a good direction, coming off a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl, and that he wants to continue that momentum.

“You’ve got to look at ‘How do we keep the momentum we’ve created?’ That’s what our focus is. And we’re going to do what the right thing is to keep that going,” Gross said. “We’ve got great momentum, we’re getting ready to go to the ACC. We want to make sure everything is stable. We’ve created a culture that’s a winning culture and that’s what we want to enhance.”

Whoever Syracuse chooses to be the next head coach, Gross said the future of the program is bright.

“We are going to be fine. We are not in a situation, and I want to emphasize this, we are not in a situation where we’re coming off four bad seasons,” Gross said. “We’re actually exponentially improving.”

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