FB : MARRONE HIRED AS HEAD COACH

New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Doug Marrone will be introduced as the next Syracuse football head coach at a 2 p.m. press conference today, the school announced this morning, ending a 26-day national search.

Marrone, a 1991 graduate of Syracuse, played on the offensive line at SU from 1983-85. He is the first alumnus to serve as Syracuse head coach since Reaves H. Baysinger in 1948.

‘When I went into coaching, I always prepared myself for this,’ Marrone said in a statement. ‘This has been the job I have always wanted.’

Published reports out of Chicago on Thursday night had Marrone, 44, accepting the job before the Saints lost to the Chicago Bears in overtime, 27-24.

His hire ends a whirlwind of a search for Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross. At first, another SU graduate, Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall, appeared to be Gross’ No. 1 pick. But Edsall repeatedly denied interest in the position. Lane Kiffin, who Gross knew from his time at Southern California, took the job at Tennessee. Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly was named head coach in waiting by the Ducks after Syracuse showed a great deal of interest in him.

And until Thursday, East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz seemed to be the odds-on favorite. Gross spent three days with Holtz in New York City for the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. On Thursday afternoon, Holtz issued a statement through East Carolina that he was no longer interested in the position.

That’s when Marrone emerged as the leader, an unlikely scenario at the beginning of the search.

He’s never been a head coach at any level. Marrone has spent the last three years with New Orleans as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Before that, was the offensive line coach for the New York Jets from 2002-05. His last college job was in 2001, when he coached the tight ends and tackles at Tennessee.

Because of that, Marrone will likely face the same questions his predecessor, Greg Robinson, did. Robinson was fired on Nov. 16 after going 10-37 in four years as SU head coach. Robinson came to Syracuse in 2005 with an NFL pedigree and limited recent collegiate experience. Robinson, just like Marrone, had never been a head coach.

But Marrone has roots at Syracuse that Robinson did not. That, along with his extensive experience recruiting the south as a collegiate assistant at Georgia Tech, Georgia and Tennessee, will be what Marrone relies on in the beginning.

Marrone is the school’s 28th head coach and fifth since 1949.

Check back at dailyorange.com for more coverage as Marrone is introduced as head coach later this afternoon.

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