NEW YORK (AP) — Doug Marrone completed his fourth season at Syracuse with another successful homecoming, and hoped it wouldn't be the last time he brings his team to the Bronx.
"You're right, I should play more games in the Borough of the Bronx," the Orange coach said after Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. "It's very special for me.
"But for me to talk about what's special for me today really does not put into perspective how I feel," he added. "We have a lot of players from this area, a lot of players whose families can't make that trip up to Syracuse for games, but they were able to come."
Marrone, a former Syracuse player and NFL assistant, took over a program that had crumbled into one of the worst in the BCS-automatic qualifying conferences in four terrible seasons under Greg Robinson.
In Marrone's first three seasons, he managed one winning record in 2010 and Syracuse followed up that hopeful season by losing its last five games in 2011 to finish 5-7.
When the Orange started this season 2-4 there was speculation about Marrone's job security, though athletic director Daryl Gross never wavered from his support of the 46-year-old coach.
Gross' confidence was rewarded. The Orange finished the season with six wins in their final seven games, a share of the Big East title in their last season in the conference, and their second bowl victory at Yankee Stadium in the past three years.
Marrone had a hard time pinpointing what made this team finish so strong after last year's stumbled down the stretch. He talked about the leadership his players showed and the closeness of his team.
He was clear about his affection for playing in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Coaches tend not to enjoy bowl trips the way players do, but earlier this week Marrone acknowledged taking a moment to appreciate how far he has come while speaking to some school-aged kids from the Bronx during a short football clinic with his players at Yankee Stadium.