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Marrone has another winning homecoming with Orange

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 31, 2012 at 3:44 am •  Published: December 31, 2012

"Here you are, you look to the left and you see young kids form the Bronx there," he said. "When I look at them I see part of my life going by. I was once just like these kids.

"And I look to my right and there's the Syracuse football team and I say to myself that was a point in my life when I was fortunate enough to play for Coach (Dick) MacPherson.

"Out of all the things that I have pretty much done in my life, I would say from the standpoint of sports, people will laugh, it's probably the greatest moment personally, because it's life come full circle."

The next step for Syracuse and Marrone is the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Orange will join their new conference with a team in transition in a few key areas.

An offense that was among the most potent in the country will have to replace quarterback Ryan Nassib, both starting receivers, and very possibly star tackle Justin Pugh, who has another year left of eligibility but could enter the NFL draft.

Five defensive starters are seniors, including All-Big East safety Shamarko Thomas.

Among the key players expected back are running backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, who helped the Orange run for more than 300 yards against West Virginia. Gulley's 208 yards rushing were the second-most for a Syracuse player in a bowl game, eight yards shy of Floyd Little's school record set in 1966 Gator Bowl against Tennessee.

On the defensive side, Syracuse should be loaded at linebacker next season with Marquis Spruill, Cameron Lynch and Dyshawn Davis all coming back.

The speculation about Marrone has now turned from whether he will keep his job to whether an NFL team tries to lure him away.

The coach didn't want to address any of that Saturday night, instead basking in another Bronx bowl victory.

"You know, I think it's special," he said. "It's become — winning the one, it's become a special place for all of us and it's always been a special place."