Doug Marrone, in his four years as the Syracuse head coach, is credited with turning around a football program that had been flailing since Donovan McNabb graduated in 1998.
A large aspect of the Orange’s turnaround, however, can also be credited to former star quarterback Ryan Nassib. Nassib was a freshman when Marrone took over and graduated the same year Marrone left to take over the Buffalo Bills.
The two spent four years together. Intriguingly, Marrone’s new squad was in need of a quarterback, and Nassib was one of the highest-rated passers entering the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, after trading down from the eighth spot to the 16th, instead of picking his former star, Marrone tabbed former Florida State QB EJ Manuel to be the face of his new team.
Asked what making such a difficult decision felt like (especially considering the fact that the Bills had to keep their pick a secret, so Nassib found out about the snub on national television like the rest of us), Marrone admitted that he hurt for his former pupil.
“In one sense, you study all the quarterbacks and you get the one you believe is the best one, and you’re happy. You’re ecstatic,” Marrone told Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King. “In another sense, you’re hurting about Ryan. And it did hurt. You’re hurting in a different way for the other quarterbacks, too, because you spent a lot of time with them, too, and there was a lot to like about all of them. But with Ryan, it was very difficult after what we did together. It hurts. It definitely hurts. He’s a special kid. Unbelievable worker. So smart. Very, very good quarterback with all the intangibles. He will win games in this league.
“The responsibility I had was to get the best player we could get. There are a lot of people relying on me to get the best players we can get here — all the people in the organization and all the fans who buy tickets to see us play.”
The Bills’ decision to go in another direction resulted in the tumbling of Nassib all the way to the New York Giants in the fourth round. He will be competing with David Carr and Curtis Painter for the right to back up Eli Manning.
“I thought the situation in Buffalo was going to go a little bit different … I was a little disappointed,” Nassib told the media on Saturday.