Doug Marrone is apologetic about the potential end of Syracuse's rivalry with Rutgers.
No, not necessarily because he is sad to see it go after his school moves to the ACC. Rather, the Syracuse coach just has not given much thought to what the end of an annual game with another program claiming a piece of the New York City market could mean.
"Well not to be sarcastic, I'm going to just be honest: I'm a football coach," the Bronx-born coach said during Monday's Big East teleconference. "So start talking about media and markets and things like that, I have no idea about that. For me, I'm looking at this as we're going and playing a very good opponent. We're playing them at their home, which is always difficult to do, and that's a great challenge for our team.
"So I really apologize that I can't comment on how that goes, because I really don't even think about that. I apologize."
The Queens-born Kyle Flood was a little more cognizant of the history surrounding his Rutgers team's Saturday home tilt with Syracuse, but he was quick to point out that, at least on the gridiron, the schools don't really go after the same players all that often.
The Scarlet Knights and the Orange start a combined five players from New York City and Long Island, all on defense.
"Three or four of their defensive linemen are from California and Virginia. Those are areas we don't really target in the recruiting process," Flood said during his Monday news conference. "For us, the only motivation that you need is to be 1‑0 this week, to continue our opportunity to win a Big East championship. That's really where we're going."
Flood credits No. 20 Rutgers' 5-0 start to the same blueprint that's been in place his seven previous years at the school when he was an assistant: strong rushing attack, game-changing special teams play and, of course, really good defense -- particularly against the run.
Marrone thinks that Rutgers probably has the best defense of any he has faced in his four years at Syracuse, and he is probably right. The Scarlet Knights rank second nationally against the run and fifth in scoring defense, both tops in the Big East. They are 15th in the country in total defense, trailing only Connecticut in the conference.
As each coach tries to avoid his first conference defeat this weekend, the ramifications of a lost rivalry will have to be put on hold.
"It's one of those things I think is indicative of the way college football is at this point," Flood said on Monday's call. "Change has become the new norm, and teams are shifting conferences. [You] probably could've said the same thing about Syracuse and Boston College a few years ago when the first shift happened in the Big East.
"It's not something that I or coach Marrone have any control over. The only thing that matters to us is this game, this week. The bigger-picture stuff, I leave that to [athletic director] Tim Pernetti. But I do think -- you asked the question so I'll answer it -- it is just indicative of what college football is these days."