If what Detroit Lions vice chairman Bill Ford gave Matt Millen yesterday was a vote of “no confidence,” then what do you characterize what Syracuse AD Darryl Gross told Ivan Maisel at ESPN.COM about embattled head football coach Greg Robinson? A vote of “no future?” Or perhaps a vote of “please do the honorable thing and quit now so I don’t have to get my hands messy and fire you?”
“It isn’t working out,” Gross said of Robinson. “It’s very disappointing … He has some work to do out in front of him.”
To say that things “aren’t working out” for Robinson at Syracuse is like saying that Ralph Nader is “a slight underdog” in the Presidential election. (In fact, I think Ralph Nader has a better chance of being the next Syracuse coach than President.) His teams are 8-31 in his four seasons on the job, and his 14.9 scoring offense is third-worst in the FBS in that stretch.
Gross also intimated that Robinson wasn’t fired this off-season so that if needed Syrcause could “get the first pick of the draft [of coaching candidates] next year.” Which I’m sure thrills Orangemen fans who bought season tickets for this season to no end. (Although really, if you bought Syracuse season tickets this season, you knew what to expect going in.)
You have to consider the timing of Gross’ statement a bit odd. After all, they are riding a one-game winning streak, having beaten Northeastern last week! If beating an average FCS team by nine at home isn’t a sign of progress, then I don’t know what is.
For his part, Robinson is sure things are going to be turning around…any minute now.
“When it happens, it doesn’t gradually happen,” Robinson said of success. “It explodes. We’re all battling our ass off. I’m really excited about it.”
Right now, the Syracuse football program is less “exploding” and more “imploding.” But as for the rumors that soon-to-be-ex Raiders coach Lane Kiffin will be taking over for Robinson? The fact that Gross “laughed off” those suggestions leads me to believe that isn’t happening.
My favorite part of the story, though? That Gross made an unsolicited call to ESPN.COM to defend the Syracuse athletic department, including using the national champion lacrosse team and highly-ranked field hockey teams as examples of recent successes. Because clearly, you can stink at football and your basketball team can miss the tournament, but as long as you have success with field hockey, you’re doing OK.