Paulus will start for Syracuse

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

This much must be said for first-year Syracuse coach Doug Marrone: The man isn't afraid to make a quick decision.

Marrone needed just a week of practice this spring to declare redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib his starting quarterback. And then, tonight, just a week after fall drills began, Marrone announced that Duke transfer Greg Paulus is his new No. 1 guy.

This latest decision is stunning. Paulus, who hasn't played football since high school and who spent four years as a basketball player, apparently did enough to win the job in one week of college practice. That was enough, in Marrone's eyes, to beat out Nassib, who by all accounts carried himself like a leader on and off the field and performed well after being promoted this spring.

Most outside observers -- myself included -- thought Marrone would bring Paulus along slowly, perhaps working him in for a series here or there as a backup to get his feet wet. Then, as the season wore along, perhaps Paulus would rise to be the starter in his lone year of eligibility.

Instead, Marrone has cast his lot -- and possibly Syracuse's season -- with a guy who last threw a meaningful pass for Christian Brothers Academy in the fall of 2004. But Marrone sounded confident of Paulus's ability back on Big East media day when I asked if it were realistic for someone to step in and play quarterback right away with his background.

"Can a guy do that?" Marrone repeated. "In my personal opinion, and in all the information I've gathered, I don't know if there's anything he can't do. Nor do I think there's anything Drew Brees can't do. If somebody said the New York Mets would take Drew Brees and he was going to play baseball for them, I'd say I think he has a chance. He's just a competitor and an athlete and there's nothing he can't do. I feel the same way with Greg."

Marrone coached Brees as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

This is a bold move, unquestionably, and it's one sure to draw national attention. If nothing else, Syracuse just became a lot more interesting, and the curiosity factor for Paulus's first start on Sept. 5 against Minnesota will be huge. Selling tickets shouldn't be a problem.

Whether Paulus can actually pull this off remains a big question mark. But Doug Marrone has shown that he isn't afraid to roll the dice.