Marrone returns to coach Syracuse

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

Syracuse turned to a former team captain to help turn around its football fortunes. Bowling Green wasn’t in such dire straits, but the Falcons made a change anyway — nabbing Tennessee’s former offensive coordinator to perk up a program that had stalled.

With two more coaches hired Friday, Army created another opening, firing Stan Brock after a pair of 3-9 seasons and a blowout loss to Navy.

After four years under former NFL assistant Greg Robinson, the Orange turned again to the pro ranks, hiring New Orleans offensive coordinator Doug Marrone, a three-year letterman at Syracuse under former coach Dick MacPherson in the mid-1980s.

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Like most alums, he’s hoping for a quick rebound for the Orange, who haven’t had a winning season since 2001. Robinson was fired in November after going 10-37 in four seasons.

‘‘We need everyone to believe,’’ Marrone said. ‘‘We need the alumni, we need the fans. I love the people here.’’

The team’s poor performance under Robinson, who had three offensive coordinators in his four seasons, hurt the school financially. In 21 homes games over his first three seasons, more than 260,000 seats were not sold, average attendance fell to a 21-year low in 2007, and attendance numbers again were abysmal in 2008.

The group that helped select the 44-year-old Marrone also included former Syracuse players Art Monk, Don McPherson and Floyd Little.

Bowling Green hadn’t fallen on such hard times — the Falcons went to bowls in three of the past six seasons. But Gregg Brandon was cut loose after going 44-30.

The 41-year-old Dave Clawson is used to more success than that. He led Richmond to the national semifinals in 2007.