|Syracuse could look to the NFL to find Doug Marrone's replacement, and Greg Roman might be on that list. (US Presswire)|
Four years ago, Doug Marrone accepted his first head coaching job at his alma mater. Charged with the task of making Syracuse competitive again, Marrone was the New York-born-and-bred coach Orange fans could rally behind. Now that he has reportedly moved on to take the head coaching position with the Buffalo Bills, where is Syracuse going to look for Marrone's replacement?
For Syracuse, the timing is unfortunate. College coaches jumping to the professional ranks falls in a tough place on the college football calendar for athletic directors. Most of the shuffling takes place in November and December. Syracuse must act quickly to get a new coaching staff in place in time to sign the 2013 recruiting class.
With some help from CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, I've compiled an initial list of possible targets for Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross. This is obviously all speculation, as Syracuse has yet to make any moves on hiring a replacement.
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach -- While recent memory might have painted Mullen as an SEC man through and through, the Bulldogs coach is a Pennsylvania native with northeastern roots. Feldman suggested Mullen, along with Greg Roman (listed below), are "sharp, offensive guys" who could be intriguing options for Syracuse. Mullen has led Mississippi State to 24 wins and three bowl appearances in the last three seasons but has yet to record a winning record in SEC play.
- Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator -- Roman's name has been floated for several NFL and college coaching positions. The Ventnor, N.J., native might welcome the opportunity to return to the East Coast after four years on Jim Harbaugh's staff -- two at Stanford, the last two in San Francisco. His prior experience is mostly in the NFL, with the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. Though he has never been a head coach, his credentials are similar to Marrone's when he accepted the job before the 2009 season.
- David Walker, Indianapolis Colts running backs coach -- Walker served as the running backs coach at Syracuse from 1995-2004, coaching six running backs who went on to play in the NFL. He then joined Dave Wannstedt's staff at Pittsburgh and has been the running backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts for the last two seasons. As a former Syracuse team captain, Walker would not need much time to win over the Orange fans. Walker ran for 2,643 yards in his career, leading the 1992 team to a 10-2 record with a Fiesta Bowl victory. Walker is a Rochester, N.Y., native and has been inducted into the Section V Hall of Fame for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
- Scott Shafer, Syracuse defensive coordinator -- Shafer was named defensive coordinator in 2009, and his 2010 unit ranked among the best in the Big East, allowing just 19.3 points and 300.3 yards per game. One of the most impressive Syracuse defenders in years -- defensive end Chandler Jones, now with the New England Patriots -- thrived as a pass rusher under Shafer's direction. His promotion is one of the two moves of least resistance for Syracuse.
- Nathaniel Hackett, Syracuse offense coordinator -- The promotion from within worked out well for Rutgers when Greg Schiano left to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching job on Jan. 26, 2012. Hackett has been Syracuse's offensive coordinator for the last two years, coaching the quarterbacks and tight ends for the last three. Before that, Hackett worked at Stanford (2003-05), and served as an NFL offensive quality control coach with the Buccaneers and Bills.
For more college football news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCFB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, college football newsletter, and get the Eye On College Football Podcast from iTunes. You can follow Chip Patterson on Twitter here: @cnpatterson3.