In the three previous years Doug Marrone was the head coach at Syracuse dispensing information about his players to friends coaching and scouting in the NFL was never a problem. Anything he could do to help put in a good word for one of his own and assist a colleague at the pro level was fine by Marrone. But now as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, things are different.
Marrone has received a lot of congratulations for his new head coaching job during his time in Indianapolis this week from his NFL brethren. That’s also been quickly followed at times by a query about his former players at Syracuse. Marrone in every case has politely declined.
“We have a lot of information on the Syracuse players or players in our conference that we’ve played against,” said Marrone. “We’ve tried to hold that close to the vest. I do have a lot of friends in this profession that have asked me about the players and I’ve said they’re good kids, they compete like hell. What you see on the tape is how you evaluate them and that’s pretty much all I told them about them.”
Syracuse has four players at this week’s NFL Combine. Wide receiver Alec Lemon, quarterback Ryan Nassib, offensive tackle Justin Pugh and strong safety Shamarko Thomas.
“There’s a sense in me of how proud I am of all the players that are here with a chance to show their skills and put themselves in a position to play in this league, which is a special league,” said Marrone. “I saw the players and I wished them luck in whatever team they may go to. All those kids have worked hard and they’re here and I have a little more insight into them.”
The Bills have a handful of assistants who also came from the Syracuse staff and worked with the quartet of Orange players at the Combine. Marrone and his coaches know the intel they possess on Syracuse’s best talent is valuable.
“I’m not going to lie to you I think it’s information that’s an advantage for us as the Buffalo Bills as an organization,” said Marrone. “It’s been very difficult for me having a lot of friends in this league that have asked me these questions quite a bit during the week. I’ve told them we’re in the information gathering business not the information giving business when it comes down to players.”
Quantifying the advantage of keeping information about the players he coached in house is difficult to ascertain, but it’s clear that even if it represents a small edge Marrone and his staff are going to use it.
“Strategically do I think it can help us along the way? I don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t, but it’s something that I’m not looking to share again like I did in the past.”