Football

In Marrone’s 4 seasons, Syracuse endured highs, lows; ascended to top of Big East by end

Doug Marrone’s four seasons at Syracuse were filled with ups and downs. Marrone went 25-25 in four seasons and took the Orange to two Pinstripe Bowl wins, transforming the program in the process. Still, there were also some tough times for Marrone and Syracuse in the last four years.

Here’s a timeline of the most important events that took place during Marrone’s tenure at Syracuse:

Dec. 13, 2008: Doug Marrone introduced as the new head coach of the Syracuse football team. Marrone came from the New Orleans Saints, where he was offensive coordinator. “I hope I don’t break down today because not a lot of times in life can you actually accomplish your dream,” Marrone said at the time.

May 14, 2009: Former Duke basketball player and Syracuse-area Christian Brothers Academy quarterback Greg Paulus chooses to come to Syracuse to use his one year of football eligibility. In preseason camp, Marrone names him starting quarterback.

Sept. 5, 2009: In Marrone’s first game as head coach, Syracuse takes Minnesota to overtime in the Carrier Dome before losing, 23-20. The game brought in 48,617 fans — the largest Dome crowd since 2000.

Sept. 19, 2009: Syracuse defeats Northwestern, 37-34, on a field goal as time expires by Ryan Lichtenstein. After two losses, the Orange achieves its first win under Marrone.

Nov. 21, 2009: While struggling through a subpar first season, Syracuse shows glimpses of its improvement: a 31-13 rout of Rutgers in the Carrier Dome. The No. 25 Scarlet Knights entered that game 7-2. Syracuse finishes its first season under Marrone 4-8 after losing to Connecticut a week later.

Offseason: In Doug Marrone’s first season as Syracuse head coach, 28 players left or were kicked out of the program.

Sept. 4, 2010: Syracuse opens its second season under Marrone with a 29-3 rout of Akron. Ryan Nassib, who would go on to become the face of the SU program along with Marrone, throws for 229 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start.

Oct. 9, 2010: Syracuse wins a game that signifies this season might be different. Nassib leads a 98-yard scoring drive, culminating in a touchdown pass to Marcus Sales, as the Orange defeats South Florida in Tampa, Fla., 13-9.

Oct. 23, 2010: Marrone picks up his first signature win as Orange head coach. The Syracuse defense, led by defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, frustrated No. 20 West Virginia’s high-octane offense. The Orange sacked WVU quarterback Geno Smith five times in a 19-14 victory.

Nov. 13, 2010: In the Orange’s second attempt to become bowl-eligible, after losing to Louisville a week earlier, Ross Krautman kicks the game-winning field goal as SU defeats Rutgers, 13-10, in Piscataway, N.J. The win was Syracuse’s seventh of the season, and the Orange became bowl-eligible for the first time since Paul Pasqualoni’s final season in 2004.

Dec. 30, 2010: Syracuse wins its first bowl game since 2001 by defeating Kansas State, 36-34, in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The Orange offense puts on its best performance of the season, headlined by Delone Carter’s 198 yards rushing and Sales’ three touchdown receptions. “They made a young kid from the Bronx’s dream come true, and win this trophy at Yankee Stadium!” Marrone said after the game.

Aug. 5, 2011: Doug Marrone opens his third Syracuse media day in the Carrier Dome by beginning with multiple suspensions and injuries. Wide receiver Marcus Sales and quarterback Jonny Miller are suspended indefinitely. Both would miss the entire 2011 season, with Miller eventually being taken off the roster and Sales rejoining the team for the following year.

Sept. 18, 2011: One day after Syracuse fell by three touchdowns at Southern California, Syracuse announces it will leave the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. The move is motivated by football, as SU plans to leave a weak football conference in the Big East for a stronger one in the ACC.

Sept. 24, 2011: Syracuse defeats Toledo, 33-30, in overtime, in a game that was soon protested by Toledo. Video replays show kicker Ross Krautman missed an extra point in regulation that was ruled good. The protest was eventually dropped as the Orange improved to 3-1.

Oct. 21, 2011: In a primetime, Friday night game on national television, Syracuse thrashes West Virginia 49-23. The victory, over the preseason Big East favorite, catapults Syracuse to the conversation at the top of the Big East. Nassib threw four touchdown passes in the win.

Dec. 3, 2011: In a less-than-two-month span, Syracuse went from a rising program to a team full of question marks. The Orange concluded its abysmal finish to the year with a 33-20 loss to Pittsburgh, ending the season at 5-7 and without a bowl appearance. SU’s big victory over West Virginia, who went on to win the Orange Bowl, turned out to be its only Big East win.

March 2012: In an effort to give the Syracuse football team more time to focus on itself, the Orange closes spring football practices to the media and public. The only opportunities to see SU practice in the spring come in a practice in Rochester and the annual Spring Game.

Sept. 1, 2012: With an offensive performance unlike any seen in Marrone’s first three years, Syracuse puts up 41 points and Nassib throws for more than 450 yards. But the Orange loses anyway. Northwestern tops Syracuse 42-41 in a wild season opener that saw SU attempt to come back from a 35-13 deficit but fall short.

Oct. 13, 2012: Syracuse looks sloppy in a 23-15 loss at Rutgers, falling to 2-4 on the season. The loss gave Marrone a 2-9 record in his last 11 games. “I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m going to get in my car and forget about it,” Marrone said. “It hurts. It hurts. It hurts a lot.”

Oct. 27, 2012: Two weeks after a low point with the Rutgers loss, things look up for Syracuse. The Orange complete a miraculous comeback at South Florida, with a Nassib touchdown pass to Alec Lemon in the final seconds the winner in a 37-36 victory. The win puts Syracuse at 4-4, 3-1 in the Big East.

Nov. 10, 2012: Perhaps the largest win of Marrone’s four years. Syracuse defeats undefeated Louisville, who had creeped into the Top 10 in the Bowl Championship Series, 45-26 in the Carrier Dome. Nassib threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns in his final home game — which also turned out to be Marrone’s final game coached in the Dome.

Nov. 17, 2012: For the second time in three years, Syracuse earns bowl eligibility, doing it this time with a stoic comeback at Missouri, a Southeastern Conference opponent. With 20 seconds left, Nassib found Lemon for a 17-yard score to give the Orange a 31-27 victory.

Dec. 29, 2012: His final game was one of his best. Syracuse routed West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14, behind a superior ground game. Less than two weeks later, the Orange would be searching for a new head coach.

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