The Buffalo Bills have reportedly agreed in principle to make Doug Marrone their next head coach. With that comes speculation as to who Marrone could hire to fill out his staff, as well as people wondering where Marrone came from. He was certainly one of the lesser-known candidates that Buffalo interviewed this past week.
Marrone's college coach while an offensive lineman at Syracuse, Dick MacPherson, also jumped to the pro ranks in 1990, helming the New England Patriots in 1991 and 1992. He went 8-24 before Bill Parcells took over, and never coached again. Upon his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, MacPherson noted jumping to the pros was a mistake.
"I think I made a huge mistake in going because, see, the thing you ought to make sure is, who the hell are you working for," said MacPherson in 2009. "I don't think it was a good marriage. I've never gotten a divorce before, you know."
Following his time at Syracuse, Marrone played in four games for Don Shula's 1987 Miami Dolphins team and one game in 1989 for Jim Mora's New Orleans Saints. There likely aren't any strong ties there due to the relative brevity of his tenure.
After three seasons at lower-level college football jobs, Marrone worked for four years under George O'Leary at Georgia Tech coaching tight ends and the offensive line. O'Leary was Syracuse's defensive line coach during Marrone's tenure as a player, and that connection helped Marrone land his first major coaching job.
O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech included several future head coaches, incluiding Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who was a graduate assistant when Marrone was at Tech, and current Maryland and former UConn head coach Randy Edsall. O'Leary has ties to Mike Tice, who hired him to coordinate the Minnesota Vikings defense in 2002.
He then spent one year at Georgia under Jim Donnan coaching the offensive line before moving to Phillip Fulmer's Tennessee staff in 2001 when Donnan was fired. Former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith ran the linebackers from 1993 to 1994 in Knoxville - so yes, Marrone has a loose tie to everyone's favorite defensive coordinator candidate.
Following his stint at Tennessee, Marrone jumped to the professional ranks, coaching Herm Edwards' offensive line for the New York Jets from 2002 to 2005. He did not make the move to the Kansas City Chiefs with Edwards the following year, instead taking the job as Sean Payton's offensive coordinator on his first Saints staff.
On Edwards' staff, the offensive coordinators that worked with Marrone were Paul Hackett - now retired/unemployed - and the late Mike Heimerdinger. Ted Cottrell and Donnie Henderson were the defensive coordinators during Marrone's tenure with the Jets. Henderson was the defensive backs coach for Marrone at Syracuse in 2012, and would be a great addition to his Bills staff, possibly as defensive coordinator. Henderson has three years of NFL defensive coordinator experience with the Jets and the Detroit Lions.
Following his transition to the Saints, Marrone didn't call the plays as offensive coordinator, as Payton took those duties. The defensive coordinator during Marrone's three-year run was Gary Gibbs, who finds himself in limbo as the Chiefs' defensive coordinator following the ouster of Romeo Crennel and the hiring of Andy Reid there.
Marrone was hired at his alma mater following the 2008 season. His assistant coaches could all come with him from Syracuse, though there will probably be some who stay or join other staffs. Notably, defensive coordinator Scott Shafer has been thrown out as a replacement for Marrone with the Orange. Nathaniel Hackett coached the offense, tight ends, and quarterbacks under Marrone at Syracuse, and was a Bills assistant from 2008 to 2009.
Other notable assistants on Marrone's staff at Syracuse include wide receivers coach Rob Moore, who was twice a Pro Bowl receiver and a stud for the Jets and Arizona Cardinals. Former NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley is Marrone's running backs coach. John Anselmo is the assistant head coach, and has ties to Marrone that go back to his Georgia Tech days.
Marrone has inroads on multiple coaching trees. As a member of Payton's staff, he has connections to Bill Parcells, who was a leading voice recommending him over the past week. Bill Belichick is Parcells' most notable assistant, but others include Tom Coughlin, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Tony Sparano. Through Edwards he has access to Marty Schottenheimer's tree, which includes Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Marvin Lewis and Wade Phillips. Don't underestimate the number of people O'Leary worked with, either. He has had a long coaching career and an affinity for Marrone.