NCF Nation: Doug Marrone

Syracuse Orange season preview

August, 18, 2014
» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Syracuse Orange:

Key returners: QB Terrel Hunt, RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, WR Ashton Broyld, LT Sean Hickey, LG Rob Trudo, DT Eric Crume, LB Dyshawn Davis, LB Cameron Lynch, CB Brandon Reddish, S Durell Eskridge

Key losses: RB Jerome Smith, C Macky MacPherson, LB Marquis Spruill, DT Jay Bromley, CB Ri'Shard Anderson, S Jeremi Wilkes

Most Important 2014 games: Sept. 27 vs. Notre Dame (in East Rutherford, New Jersey), Oct. 3 vs. Louisville, Nov. 8 vs. Duke, Nov. 22 at Pitt, Nov. 29 at Boston College

Projected win percentage (from ESPN Stats & Information): 51 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 5.5

[+] EnlargeTerrel Hunt
AP Photo/Phil SearsTerrel Hunt passed for 1,638 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He added another 500 yards rushing with seven touchdowns on the ground.
Instant impact newcomer: John Miller best fits this bill, as he is a junior college transfer who saw just limited time last season, his first with the Orange. Now the former Los Angeles Harbor College player looks to build off a spring that saw him emerge as one of the team's most improved players and as a leader on offense. Miller is the front-runner to start at center for Syracuse and should allow others around him to stay in their natural positions.

High point from 2013: Terrel Hunt hit Josh Parris for an 8-yard touchdown pass with six seconds left in the regular-season finale to top rival Boston College 34-31 and earn win No. 6. This was a major boost for Syracuse, which ended up beating Minnesota in the Texas Bowl to finish 7-6 in Year 1 of both the Scott Shafer and the ACC eras. It might have been a watershed moment for Hunt, too, as he enters 2014 looking to take the next step as a leader of this offense.

Low point from 2013: Losing big to heavyweights Florida State and Clemson is one thing. But a 56-0 loss at Georgia Tech, a team that went just 7-6 and enters 2014 with major questions, is pretty much inexcusable. It stands out even more considering the Orange entered the game coming off a win at NC State and won two straight contests right after the Atlanta trip. (It also stands out after Shafer made his thoughts known about Atlanta winters, and after the Twitterverse replied as the Twitterverse is wont to do.)

Best-case scenario for 2014: Hunt evolves as a passer and as a runner, orchestrating an offense that has made it known it would like to push the tempo in 2014. Unlike last year, the Orange enter the season knowing who their No. 1 quarterback is, and that proves beneficial as they race out to an early 3-0 start. The front seven steps up and Syracuse is able to steal a win during a tough three-game stretch against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State, emerging on the other end ready to tackle a final month that concludes with road contests at former Big East foes Pitt and BC. Syracuse improves in Shafer's second season, hitting his goal of at least eight wins, and the future looks bright for a program looking to emerge as a legitimate No. 3 team in a top-heavy Atlantic division behind FSU and Clemson.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Hunt struggles to command the offense with more responsibility, the defense can't seem to make up for the loss of Bromley up front and the Orange get eaten alive by a tough schedule. A trip to Wake Forest provides a reprieve during a five-game stretch that features the aforementioned teams above plus Clemson on the other end. No matter, though, as a physically beaten team staggers into the final month with only NC State as a winnable game. Syracuse wins four games, its worst season since Doug Marrone's inaugural 2009 campaign.

They said it: "I was happy with the way we finished the season. I thought both Terrel [Hunt] and the wide receivers did a nice job finishing up with the victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl, but we need to take it to the next level to get to the next level. We're always going to really work hard to run the football. I believe in running the football, I believe in stopping the run. I think that's where it starts with our philosophy. But in this day and age, you've got to be able to open it up, and we put the onus on our passing game, our wide receivers, to take their game up." -- Shafer, on the passing game becoming more explosive

Previewing ACC in NFL draft

April, 25, 2013

NFL draft coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN and, but here is a one-stop shopping post for all of your last-minute mocks and talk:
  • First, let's take a look at who will be there: Florida State and North Carolina will represent the ACC with Bjoern Werner, Menelik Watson, Xavier Rhodes, EJ Manuel, and UNC's Jonathan Cooper.
  • KC Joyner says Rhodes could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
  • The experts at Scouts Inc. projected all seven roundsInsider -- and the ACC will have two top-10 picks, depending on your take of the ACC at this particular point in time. If you want to count former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, then "the ACC" will have the No. 8 overall pick, going to former Cuse coach Doug Marrone, now with Buffalo. If you're like me, and not really willing to count Nassib in this group, then former UNC OG Jonathan Cooper is the ACC's top dawg at No. 11 overall. This is Insider content, so it's just a sneak peek, but you're going to have to wait until the second round to see EJ Manuel and the third round for Mike Glennon.
  • Todd McShay posted his Mock 5.1,Insider but he will also have an update this morning with his latest on the first round.
  • On Monday, Mel Kiper Jr. also released his latest, Mock Draft 4.1,Insider but his will also be updated as the draft nears, so check back. Meanwhile, put your own spin on Kiper's draft.
  • Our NFL bloggers also held their mock draft this week.
  • And there will be a live blog from Radio City Music Hall beginning at noon today.

Syracuse announces OC, other moves

January, 17, 2013
Syracuse made several coaching announcements Thursday:
  • George McDonald will serve as offensive coordinator.
  • Tim Lester will coach quarterbacks.
  • Receivers coach Rob Moore and defensive-line coach Tim Daoust will remain on staff.
The McDonald news had been widely reported, so it comes as expected. McDonald had just taken a job at Arkansas in December after spending two seasons coaching receivers at Miami. He and new Syracuse coach Scott Shafer worked together at Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.

“When I worked with the Browns in Cleveland I spoke often with Jim Brown," McDonald said in a statement. "He always told me what a special place this is. I am excited to be here to continue the tradition of Syracuse football and to continue to build what Coach (Doug) Marrone, Coach Shafer and Coach (Nathaniel) Hackett have started,” McDonald said. “Our offense will be physical, fundamentally sound, and aggressive. We will strive to be balanced by getting the ball to the best playmakers, make the defense defend the whole field and play with a great tempo."

Lester just completed his fifth season as the head coach at Elmhurst College, where he guided the Bluejays to the most successful season in school history. He had a record-setting career as a quarterback at Western Michigan, throwing for 11,299 yards passing and 89 touchdowns. Quarterback will be a huge story line for the Orange in the spring as they work to replace their own record-setting quarterback, Ryan Nassib.

As for Moore and Daoust, having them remain on staff is huge for the Orange when you consider that Marrone essentially hired away nearly every Syracuse assistant to join him with the Buffalo Bills. Moore and Daoust are two of the stronger coaches on the staff. Moore helped Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales blossom. Daoust worked with first-round pick Chandler Jones in 2011 and helped develop Brandon Sharpe in 2012. The Orange ranked sixth nationally in tackles for loss in 2012.
The ACC’s crop of 2013 quarterbacks will be an interesting blend of old and new. Veterans Logan Thomas and Tajh Boyd both decided to return for their senior seasons instead of leaving early for the NFL draft, but several big names -- like EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon -- will be missing. Here’s a quick rundown of the position heading into the 2013 season:


CLEMSON: Boyd returns. The record-setter should be a Heisman candidate, considering he led the ACC in passing efficiency, was second in passing average/game, and threw for 36 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions.

MIAMI: Stephen Morris returns. Morris should be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, and he might have the best offensive line in the conference to work with. Last season, Morris started all 12 games and threw for a career-best 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns, completing 58.2 percent of passes. He set the school single-season total offense record with 3,415 yards.

NORTH CAROLINA: Bryn Renner returns. He was No. 3 in the ACC last season in passing average per game (279.7), and he was No. 3 in passing efficiency. He finished with 3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

VIRGINIA TECH: Thomas returns. This was a huge boost to the Hokies’ offense. Thomas has started the past 27 games for the Hokies, passing for 6,096 yards and 37 touchdowns, and running for 1,015 yards and 20 scores.

WAKE FOREST: Tanner Price returns. He threw for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, and he’ll be helped by the fact that standout receiver Michael Campanaro returns. Price completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards.


VIRGINIA: Phillip Sims returns, but Michael Rocco transferred. Sims is the most likely starter, but how much playing time will David Watford see? While sharing time with Rocco last season, Sims finished with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,263 yards.

MARYLAND: C.J. Brown, who tore his ACL before the start of the 2012 season, is the most likely starter. This position can only get better for Maryland in 2013, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback last season. He started five games in 2011, but this would be his first full season as starter.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Senior Chase Rettig returns. He started all 12 games last season, completed 54.2 percent of his passes, threw for 3,065 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The reason BC isn’t in the “great shape” category is because Rettig will have his 103rd offensive coordinator. The good news is that Ryan Day is a former BC offensive assistant, so it’s not like they just met.

DUKE: Veteran Sean Renfree has to be replaced. Anthony Boone isn't a rookie, but this will be his first season as a full-time starter. Boone has had the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks on the roster, including Renfree. Boone played in 11 games in 2012, completed 51.6 percent of his passes (49 of 95) for 531 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns.


FLORIDA STATE: Manuel must be replaced. Clint Trickett is the leading candidate heading into the spring, and he has the edge in experience, but he will compete with Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. Trickett started two games in 2011, filling in for the injured Manuel, but this past season he only threw the ball 34 times. Coker played in four games and threw it five times.

GEORGIA TECH: Tevin Washington must be replaced. Vad Lee is the front-runner heading into the spring, but Justin Thomas will give him plenty of competition. Lee didn’t start any games in 2012, but he got plenty of meaningful snaps and ran for 544 yards and nine touchdowns, and threw for 596 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

NC STATE: Glennon must be replaced. This position is a huge question mark for the Pack, especially considering the program has gone through a staff change, with Dave Doeren taking over. Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the front-runners heading into spring ball. Stocker threw the ball just twice in 2012 as a true freshman, and Thomas has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2012 season per NCAA rules because he transferred from Colorado State.

PITT: Panthers fans rejoined when the final seconds ticked off the clock in the BBVA Compass Bowl because they won't have to watch Tino Sunseri play another down. Sunseri did start for three seasons, but this program is looking for a major upgrade at the position. Competition in the spring should focus on transfer Tom Savage, a former Freshman All-American, and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, a four-star recruit from the class of 2012.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, who just had the best single-season passing year in school history. They thought they had an incoming stud in Zach Allen, but the Texas recruit de-committed after coach Doug Marrone left for Buffalo, and Allen pledged to TCU. That leaves the job wide open in the spring between backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
1. Mike Aresco may not have a drinking problem, but otherwise the Big East commissioner is beginning to mimic the character Denzel Washington portrayed in Flight. Aresco has all but flipped the conference upside down in midair in order to withstand the turbulence of realignment. Now that San Diego State has rejoined Boise State in the Mountain West, Aresco may get it done. The sea-to-shining-sea conference membership was a bad idea, and the Big East has spent a lot of time and money undoing it.

2. On the day after Doug Marrone announced that four of his nine Syracuse assistants would follow him to the Buffalo Bills, Oregon coach Chip Kelly announced he would leave for the NFL, too. Nowhere has staff continuity been more important than at Oregon, where six of the nine assistants have spent at least 10 years on the Ducks staff. It stands to reason that if offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich replaces Kelly, Oregon would have a better shot at maintaining its success.

3. Then there’s USC, where no news would be good news. Any day that a head coach denies that a brawl broke out in his postgame locker room is not a good day. Lane Kiffin must think the 2012 season will never end. Athletic director Pat Haden held his tongue after the disastrous Sun Bowl. He knows that injuries contributed a lot toward the Trojans’ 7-6 record. But the latest story continues the portrayal of a team that fell apart when times got tough.
I now present to you Part II of my interview with new Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, who discusses how he wants to impact the program and what he learned most from outgoing coach Doug Marrone.

In case you missed it, you can check out Part I here.

You mentioned other head-coaching opportunities that maybe weren’t quite right. Now that you are a head coach, what has it been like waiting for your chance, wondering if that day would come for you?

[+] EnlargeScott Shafer
Rich Barnes/USA TODAY SportsScott Shafer succeeds Doug Marrone, who resigned and was named coach of the Buffalo Bills.
SS: It was for the most part pleasurable because I got to coach and call defenses, and I had a blast doing that. I tried to have short-term goals, and the long-term goals would take care of themselves and not worry about those things. I'd be lying to you if I didn’t tell you there were times of disappointment, where you say, 'Well, shoot, why didn’t I have an opportunity to get on that job?' No different than anybody in the world. But for the most part, I’ve always been so lucky to be coaching something I love and have my impact on those players, that you get over it as soon as you see them the next day.

A big theme has been continuity with you taking over for Coach Marrone because you’ve been in the program for four years, you know what it takes to keep the program moving forward and you have the support of all your players. Given that, how do you put your own stamp on the program?

SS: To be honest with you, I just trust what I believe in and try not to be anyone but myself and try to help these kids figure out who they are and who they want to be as a group, as a team. Each team is different than any other. And that’s what’s always so exciting, and that’s always the challenge. What is the 2013 [season] going to be, who are we going to be, what’s the theme, what’s the motto? We can’t script it. It’s got to be something developed at the 6 a.m. workouts when things are very difficult and they have to learn to rely on one another and those types of things. That’s the best part of coaching, seeing somebody find themselves while busting their rump. All we want to do is be able to put a product on the field that’s fun to watch, has some energy but more importantly is appreciated by people that appreciate teams that play really hard, physical, hard-nosed football.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from working under Coach Marrone that will help you now that you are a head coach for the first time?

SS: He’s an extremely organized person and that’s one thing I’ve taken from him. Also, the ability to walk away from a situation and let his coaches coach, I think that’s probably the biggest thing I take away from it.

Best Big East moments of 2012

January, 14, 2013
The calendar reads 2013, but it is time to take a quick look back at the best moments of the 2012 season.

Best moment, period: Louisville 33, Florida 23, Allstate Sugar Bowl. OK this game was technically played in 2013, but it still counts as the best moment the Big East had. Louisville may be headed out the door, but the Big East should own this moment, considering the constant beating it has taken over the past two seasons. Louisville is proof that the Big East can survive without its big-name programs. Remember, Louisville was only added to the Big East after the first raid took Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. Since joining in 2005, the Cardinals have gone to two BCS games and have an up-and-coming football program. It stings that they are leaving, but the program has taken off under the Big East umbrella.

Best Big East game: Louisville 34, Cincinnati 31, overtime. I thought this was the most thrilling game of the season, and had folks talking Big East football on a Friday night in October. Cincinnati had 10-point leads in the first and second half before the Cardinals came back twice under Teddy Bridgewater. After Bridgewater threw the go-ahead 64-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker with 1:56 to go, Cincinnati did not cave. Munchie Legaux answered with a 26-yard, game-tying touchdown pass of his own to Damon Julian with 1:03 to go to send the game into overtime. One of the moments everybody will remember is the "Butch Jones shrug," after botching the ice-the-kicker timeout. Jones called timeout just before Louisville kicker John Wallace attempted a 30-yard field goal in overtime. The snap was high and the kick sailed wide. Wallace nailed the try that counted, and the Cardinals escaped with the win.

[+] EnlargeTyler Matakevich
Cal Sport Media/APTemple's defense got a boost after freshman LB Tyler Matakevich cracked the starting lineup.
Best performance by a freshman: Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple. Matakevich was an unheard-of prospect when the season began, but that all changed at the end of 2012. Matakevich won Big East Freshman of the Year honors after he completely dominated when he got his opportunity in the starting lineup. He ended up with double-digit tackles in seven of the eight games he started.

Best performance by a sophomore: Bridgewater. There is no doubt Bridgewater was the best player in the Big East this season, as he ended up throwing for 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 68.5 percent of his passes. His emergence gives the Big East a legitimate Heisman contender in 2013.

Best performance by a junior: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers. Ryan had another outstanding season as one of the premier shutdown cornerbacks in the country, finishing as an All-Big East first-team selection. He was second on the team with 94 tackles and was the only player in the nation with at least 90 tackles, four interceptions and 18 passes defended.

Best performance by a senior: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers. There were plenty of outstanding senior performances this season, but Greene was the best of them, repeating as Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Greene ended the season with 136 tackles, six sacks and six forced fumbles.

Best comeback performance: Syracuse. When the Orange started the year 2-4, how many of you predicted Doug Marrone would become the next coach of the Buffalo Bills? Syracuse ended the season as one of the league's hottest teams with wins in six of its last seven games. Last year was the exact reverse -- Syracuse started 5-2 and could not win another game. Interesting how that all worked out, isn't it?

Best "firsts": Syracuse and Pitt both hit offensive firsts this season. Syracuse had a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in school history. Ryan Nassib finished with 3,749 yards passing; Jerome Smith had 1,171 yards rushing; and Alec Lemon had 1,070 yards receiving. Meanwhile, the Panthers had a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season for the first time in school history. Tino Sunseri finished the season with 3,288 yards, while Ray Graham had 1,042.

Best record: Big East 4-1 vs. SEC. Now this is truly something the Big East can brag about. The lone blemish belongs to Pitt, which lost to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl. While it may be true that three of those four wins came against teams with losing records, you can't deny how important it was for Louisville to beat Kentucky and Florida; for Syracuse to go on the road and beat Missouri in November to clinch bowl eligibility; and for Rutgers to go on the road and beat an Arkansas team that was ranked in the preseason. Before the year began, many opined about the tough games for the Orange and Scarlet Knights on the road, particularly since they were late additions to the schedule. Neither opponent may have been as good as advertised in the preseason, but there's still no denying the enormity of the wins.
Want to know how to own an introductory news conference?

See: Shafer, Scott.

The new Syracuse coach gave his players and fans an early glimpse Friday at what they are going to get with him in charge: A guy with an edge, who is not afraid to talk a little smack, throw down one-liners, pay homage to Syracuse or show his emotions when talking about what means the most to him.

Shafer hit every check box under the category "Things to say to get folks fired up."

Here is just a brief sampling:

There was a singular catch phrase: "Hard-nosed team!"

There was some news: close friend Chuck Bullough will take over as defensive coordinator, after spending last season with the Browns. The two worked together at Western Michigan.

There were pauses to collect himself. When asked how long he wanted to be a head coach, Shafer began, "It's been a goal of mine since I was about 10 years old." He paused, tried to talk about his father, and stopped.

There were a few puns: "I envision an offense with a lot of juice. A lot of Orange juice. ... When you come and watch them play you better not take a bathroom break."

There was a reference to big home wins over West Virginia and Louisville: "West Virginia came in here a year ago. They were talkin'. We locked 'em in the dome and beat the hell out of them. Louisville this year when we played the unstoppable team and didn't have a chance in hell to play against that team and our kids got after it and the crowd was rumbling in that Dome."

There were references to Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and Hall of Fame coach Dick MacPherson, including a personal story about his mother, father and younger brother taking a recruiting visit to Syracuse. He still has a photo the three of them took with MacPherson.

There was a reference to the impending move to the ACC: "We're gonna go to the damn ACC and we're gonna storm that conference!"

As returning running back Jerome Smith tweeted when it was all over, "Coach shafe sound like he ready to play tomorrow."

I heard from some skeptical Orange fans during the Big East chat Thursday, wondering whether Syracuse was too hasty in its decision to promote Shafer shortly after Doug Marrone left for Buffalo. After his news conference, I think Shafer convinced his skeptics he deserves this opportunity.
1. Nothing against Luke Joeckel or Zach Ertz or David Amerson or any of the players who have decided to enter the NFL draft before they use all of their college eligibility. But it seems as if players are more clear-eyed and less starry-eyed about the decision than they used to be. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd stayed to get better and to help the Tigers achieve more. Arizona State defensive end Will Sutton stayed because he likes college football. That may be the biggest difference: College football is fun. The NFL is a job.

2. Scott Shafer left Stanford after the 2007 season as Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator to return to his native Midwest and make more money and, in 2008, proceeded to run a Michigan defense that gave up the most points in Wolverines history. Shafer found a new home at Syracuse, helped Doug Marrone turn around the Orange and now has replaced him as head coach. Two thoughts: 1) Did nothing Rich Rodriguez do at Michigan work? 2) What a crazy business coaching is.

3. The Big East is meeting in Dallas on Friday to continue to figure out what the league will be in 2013. Even though Boise State pulled out, league executives believe San Diego State will maintain its commitment. With the seven Catholic schools breaking off and possibly keeping the Big East name, it’s only a matter of time before the league office leaves Providence for a more central, more football-oriented location.
The buzzword today and the rest of the week at Syracuse: #continuity.

That is what the Orange desperately need. And that is why athletic director Daryl Gross turned to defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, a man completely immersed in the Orange turnaround who knows what it takes to finish the job Doug Marrone began. That, above all else, is the No. 1 priority as Syracuse moves into the ACC.

Not splashy, flashy hires.

Not winning news conferences.

Merely winning.

In the end, this was the only move -- the best move -- Gross could make. Hiring coaches in January is vastly different from hiring coaches in early December. Gross said as much during a radio interview earlier this week. When head coaches move on so late in the process, college teams have a tendency to promote from within for a host of reasons. There is a time crunch. There is recruiting. There are talented coaches on staff deserving of an opportunity. There is the hope for continuity.

Stanford did it two years ago when Jim Harbaugh moved on. David Shaw just won the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl.

Rutgers did it last year when Greg Schiano moved on. Kyle Flood just won Co-Big East Coach of the Year honors and led the Scarlet Knights to a share of their first-ever league title.

Where Syracuse differs, however, is where this program stands. Schiano spent 11 seasons building Rutgers; Harbaugh won an Orange Bowl. Syracuse is in a much more tenuous spot than those two programs, when you consider the looming conference move and its inability to string together success on a consistent basis. Harbaugh only stuck around Stanford for four years -- the same as Marrone at Syracuse.

Both inherited giant messes. But Harbaugh did have winning seasons his final two years there, including the BCS berth. Syracuse has not posted winning records in consecutive seasons since 2000-01.

The goal, of course, is to get back to the BCS and make Syracuse nationally relevant again. Shafer has shown his defenses are perfectly capable of leading the way, especially after some monster games this year against Louisville and West Virginia. Of most immediate concern is replacing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, headed to Buffalo with Marrone.

And while promoting from within has worked some places (see: Stanford) and not at others (see: West Virginia), this decision is a no-brainer. Shafer knows what to do. Continuing the momentum is up to him.
Syracuse officially announced Wednesday that defensive coordinator Scott Shafer has been promoted to head coach, replacing Doug Marrone.

Shafer has spent the past four seasons as Orange defensive coordinator working under Marrone, who left for the Buffalo Bills. Here are a few statements. Syracuse has scheduled a news conference for Friday afternoon.

Shafer: "I look forward to representing the hard-nosed city of Syracuse and the great state of New York as the head coach of Syracuse University. We will go to work every day to put a quality product on the field as we storm our way into the Atlantic Coast Conference. We are very motivated to start preparing for the 2013 campaign with our current team and incoming student-athletes."

Athletic director Daryl Gross: "Scott Shafer is an experienced, intelligent, motivating coach who has dedicated his life to coaching and developing college student-athletes. I can't think of a coach in America who is more deserving of having an opportunity to be a head coach. His commitment to developing the total student-athlete is unmatched. We have all seen the attitude of his defense which consists of unity, toughness and persistence. I know and trust Coach Shafer will enhance the momentum that has been created in the program. He is a brilliant coach, a tireless worker and a relentless recruiter who believes that we can create a sustainable championship culture. I am convinced Coach Shafer will successfully carry the torch of the Syracuse football legacy."

Chairman of the Syracuse Board of Trustees Richard L. Thompson and Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor: "Coach Scott Shafer has been an important factor in why the winning tradition has returned to our program. He has the vision, commitment, and energy necessary for our team to be successful on the field and for our student-athletes to succeed off-the-field, both academically and personally. As we continue to strengthen the program, his outstanding abilities, developed over 20 years of coaching, make him the right leader to build on Syracuse football’s strong momentum in the years ahead. We congratulate Dr. Daryl Gross who undertook a swift, intensive search process that identified the right candidate -- while ensuring stability, continuity, and quality in our football program.”

Marrone: "As a Syracuse letterwinner, I am proud to have Scott Shafer leading the football program. He is a person of high integrity who cares about the student-athletes and their development on and off the field. Scott has proven his expertise as a defensive coordinator and is ready to lead the program. I wish him all the best as the head coach of the Orange."
Brace yourselves.

This is not the ACC power rankings you are used to. It is bigger. Let’s hope it’s not badder. The first version of the 2013 ACC power rankings reflects the addition of Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orange. There are 14 teams here (and Boston College is still last). Welcome to the league, Pitt and Cuse.

There are still plenty of questions for several teams that have players still undecided about their NFL careers, but this is your first take on a ranking likely to change many times between now and the opening kickoff. Lots can happen (and does) during signing day, spring ball and summer camp, but here is how Andrea Adelson and I think the ACC will shape up this fall based on what we know now:

1. Clemson -- With quarterback Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris working together again, the Tigers would have the best coordinator/quarterback combo returning in the ACC. The defense should take another step forward in the second season under coordinator Brent Venables, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU was a monumental springboard for the program heading into the offseason.

2. Florida State -- The Seminoles will be going through a transition, as coach Jimbo Fisher has to replace at least five assistants on his staff, as well as starting quarterback EJ Manuel. With several players, including defensive end Bjoern Werner, leaving early for the NFL draft, the Noles will have to reload.

3. Miami -- The Hurricanes hoped their self-imposed bowl ban was a preemptive strike against NCAA sanctions. With quarterback Stephen Morris returning, along with ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson and what could be one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, expectations should be much higher for the Canes in Year 3 under Al Golden.

4. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets will have some momentum and confidence to build on after their bowl win over USC, but more importantly, they’ve got an experienced, talented roster to work with. Georgia Tech will have eight starters back on a defense that made measurable progress in the second half of the season.

5. UNC -- Coach Larry Fedora is going to have to work some magic in trying to replace leading rusher/returner Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL, and his lead blocker, Jonathan Cooper. Quarterback Bryn Renner will be a senior, though, and the Tar Heels have other talented running backs waiting in the wings.

6. Pitt -- The moment every Pitt fan has been waiting for -- Tino Sunseri will no longer be the starting quarterback in 2013. Does that mean the position gets an automatic upgrade? Promising running back Rushel Shell returns, and Pitt's defense should be much better, but questions remain on the offensive line.

7. Virginia Tech -- The school has yet to announce any staff changes, quarterback Logan Thomas has yet to announce whether or not he is returning for his senior season, and the Hokies open the schedule against national champion Alabama. Doesn’t look good.

8. Syracuse -- Major questions surround the Orange now that coach Doug Marrone has left for the Buffalo Bills. This is a team that already had to replace starting quarterback Ryan Nassib, all-Big East tackle Justin Pugh, record-setting receiver Alec Lemon and leading tackler Shamarko Thomas. But Syracuse does have 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Smith returning, along with linebackers Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis. Many questions must be answered before 2013 begins.

9. Maryland -- It can only get better, right? Maryland was down to its fifth-string quarterback last year, linebacker Shawn Petty. Starter C.J. Brown should be ready to return to the starting lineup this summer and healed from a torn ACL. The defense has some big shoes to fill, but the Terps should have enough experience to be bowl bound in their final season in the ACC.

10. Wake Forest -- The Deacs were thrown off track last season by injuries and suspensions and should be a better team this year. Quarterback Tanner Price returns for his senior season, along with receiver Michael Campanaro, who should be one of the best in the ACC if he can stay healthy.

11. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace quarterback Sean Renfree and his top target, ACC record-setting receiver, Conner Vernon. Duke went to its first bowl game since 1994, but the program still has something to prove after losing its last five games of the season. The Coastal Division should collectively be stronger this year.

12. Virginia -- Phillip Sims will take over at quarterback after the transfer of Michael Rocco, but how much time will David Watford see under center? The hires of Tom O’Brien and Jon Tenuta were smart moves, but the staff will have to find a way to extract more out of many of the same players who struggled last year.

13. NC State -- Quarterback Mike Glennon is out, and first-year coach Dave Doeren is in. The Wolfpack will have an entirely different look this fall, and some bumps in the road should be expected as the program begins a new era under Doeren.

14. Boston College -- The Eagles have lots of work to do under first-year coach Steve Addazio. It all starts with recruiting, but the staff is also going to have to find a way to improve the running game and get the defense back to its stingy ways.
The time you have waited for is now. Here are your final 2012 Big East power rankings. May this iteration of the league rest in peace.

1. Louisville (11-2, 5-2). The Cardinals delivered the definitive statement victory for the Big East in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, downing No. 3 Florida 33-23. It was not only their biggest win of the season, it was the biggest win for the Big East on the season. That makes Louisville the hands-down No. 1 team in the Big East.

2. Cincinnati (10-3, 5-2). I nearly ranked Syracuse in the No. 2 spot given the way the Orange finished the season -- as one of the hottest teams in the Big East. But Cincinnati did win the head-to-head meeting and won 10 games for the fifth time in six seasons. Another impressive season for the Bearcats.

3. Syracuse (8-5, 5-2). The Orange won six of their final seven games on the year and ended the season playing as well as any team out there. Major credit to coach Doug Marrone for winning a share of the Big East in what ended up being his final season. The win over West Virginia in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl was as dominating a victory as any team had during bowl season.

4. Rutgers (9-4, 5-2). Rutgers may have won the head-to-head meeting against the Orange, but this is a vastly different team today than it was in October. The Scarlet Knights ended the season on a three-game losing streak and blew their shot at making a first BCS game. I don't think there is a Big East team that disappointed more during bowl season.

5. Pitt (6-7, 3-4). The Panthers ended up losing their bowl game against Ole Miss with Ray Graham on the sideline, and that performance was par for the course all year. Good Pitt/Bad Pitt became one of the most head-scratching teams in the league this year.

6. UConn (5-7, 2-5). The Huskies pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the Big East this year when they beat Louisville. But they also lost to Temple and USF. If this group had played just a smidge better on offense, it would have probably been a bowl team. Defense did more than enough to get the Huskies into the postseason.

7. Temple (4-7, 2-5). The Owls did beat UConn and USF this year, but they also finished with five straight losses in Big East play after jumping to a 2-0 start. Still, they were not the worst team in the league, which is saying something for a team that just finished Year 1 in the Big East.

8. USF (3-9, 1-6). It is pretty clear that Louisville belongs at the top of this list and that USF belongs at the bottom. The Bulls hit rock bottom with their worst season as an FBS team. Only one Big East win this year, to 5-7 UConn at home. Safe to say you will not see USF near the top of the way-too-early 2013 power rankings, coming out later.
Syracuse defensive coordinator Scott Shafer is expected to replace Doug Marrone as head coach, a source told Brett McMurphy of ESPN.

Shafer has been the Orange defensive coordinator since 2009. He also was defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford and Michigan. first reported the expected hire.

Marrone left Monday to take the Buffalo Bills job. During an interview Monday with ESPN Radio CNY, Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said he would move quickly to replace Marrone, and said he would be "foolish" if he did not consider in-house candidates. He also said he wants to maintain as much of the status quo as possible.

"We’ve developed some unique things and we need to keep a lot of those concepts moving forward," Gross told the radio station. "We’re looking to compete for conference championships right away. We don’t want to destabilize too much. We want to make sure we keep our philosophies and direction going the way it’s going right now."
In the middle of Syracuse's biggest win in 2012, athletic director Daryl Gross stepped out of his box inside the Carrier Dome and beamed.

The Orange were crushing then-No. 9 Louisville. All those questions about whether Syracuse coach Doug Marrone belonged on the hot seat disappeared as quickly as the Cards' unblemished record.

Gross looked vindicated, his faith and trust in Marrone rewarded with a breakthrough performance that eventually led Syracuse to a share of its first Big East title since 2004.

"See why we always believed in Doug?" he said. "He is the right man for the job."

[+] EnlargeMarrone
Cal Sport MediaSyracuse had one of the nation's worst major-college football programs before Doug Marrone took over four seasons ago.
Marrone was better than the right man for the job. He was the perfect man for the job, the biggest reason why his departure to the Buffalo Bills is a huge blow to a program just regaining its footing. A three-year starter at Syracuse in the early 1980s, Marrone has special affection for this job, and for this university, living out his dream as Orange head coach.

He reiterated that during his introductory news conference Monday in Buffalo, saying, "I had said that Syracuse was my dream job, and I meant that when I said it. Having the opportunity to restore the great tradition of Syracuse football made my dream a reality. Today, I’m experiencing another dream come true."

So Marrone leaves to live out another dream, some four years after taking on the reclamation job that was Syracuse in 2008. When that season ended, Syracuse was one of the worst programs in the entire country. Greg Robinson won 10 games in four years -- including three total wins in Big East play.

No program had fallen further in such a short period of time, and many wondered whether Syracuse would ever be nationally relevant again. Marrone would need time to turn around the program, because just about everything had to be revamped -- beginning with the culture.

Some players meshed with the new style, while others did not. That ended up costing the Orange players -- some were kicked off the team. Others left. But Marrone knew he needed a disciplined team to get this program headed in the right direction.

After winning four games in Year 1, Syracuse went 8-5 and back to a bowl game in 2010 -- its first bowl appearance in six years. This past season, the Orange also went 8-5 with a win in the Pinstripe Bowl and finished 5-2 in Big East play -- their best league mark since 2001.

They ended the year as the hottest team in the Big East, winning six of their final seven games. That impressive turnaround suggested Syracuse was on an upswing headed into its first year in the ACC.

Marrone was building something here, even though the results have been inconsistent. His overall record may not look great to outside observers (25-25), but it is downright Herculean when you consider the task that was in front of him when he took this job. Those results, combined with his NFL background, made it pretty clear he would be the next Big East coach on general managers' speed dial.

The Big East has bled good coaches for years now. Marrone is only the latest in a long line to leave for a better job and bigger opportunity. But his departure comes at a more critical time than just about all the others. Guys like Greg Schiano, Brian Kelly and Butch Jones left their respective programs in good shape.

Syracuse is at a more fragile place than Rutgers or Cincinnati. Though the Orange made strides this year, the rebuilding job is far from over. Syracuse has not been ranked or won 10 games since 2001. The last BCS appearance? The 1998 season. The last time the Orange had back-to-back winning seasons? Try 2000-01.

That is why Gross faces such an important decision. He made a great hire in Marrone. He needs another great hire to keep this program from slipping backward again.