The Big East found room to honor two men as the league's co-coaches of the year, but one could have felt a little forgotten.
Louisville Charlie Strong and Connecticut's Randy Edsall shared the award, and both did excellent work this season. But Syracuse's Doug Marrone also had an excellent case. He took a team that hadn't gone bowling since 2004 and hadn't even won more than one conference game in that time to a 7-5 record and 4-3 Big East mark. The Orange had a better record than Louisville, though they did lose to both the Cardinals and Huskies head to head.
Marrone was my choice for coach of the year in the Big East. So when I had a chance to catch up with him this week, I had to ask if he felt snubbed. To no surprise, he handled the question with humility.
"The two coaches who won that award were deserving of it," he said. "There are probably others in our conference who are deserving of it, too.
"Those type of awards are a reflection of what type of staff you have, what type of team you have. They may be pointed to an individual, but you can't do it without all the support.
"I don't go in expecting those things or looking forward to those things. I'm more concerned about making sure we're doing everything we possibly can to represent this university, this community, the alumni and lettermen."
Marrone won't be going home empty-handed this awards season. He was named an AFCA regional coach of the year.
His biggest concern for now is fixing an offensive attack that limped to the finish line in the regular season, scoring only 26 points total in its final three games. Injuries and fatigue contributed to the slump, as the Orange did not have the benefit of a bye week once Big East play began. Syracuse will have had more than a month off before playing Kansas State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
"When you have problems physically, that's easy to document and see who's in and who's out," Marrone said. "But the mental strain you go through when you're competing week in and week out is tough. Those are things we need to learn as a football team.
"After we took this break and went through finals and then started practicing, there was more of a bounce in our step. I'm excited about where we are from that standpoint, coming back and being a fresher team, for lack of a better term."