Connecting the Dots: Terry Richardson and Syracuse

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Big East like any BCS conference has its fair share of coaching vacancy speculation among its teams. This year, the focus is on Syracuse in its quest to fill out a full staff for new head coach Doug Marrone; UCONN in replacing recently departed Rob Ambrose at offensive coordinator, and Louisville in replacing defensive coordinator Ron English. The situation at Syracuse and UCONN have some connections that are interesting when observed at close distance.

You may remember that UCONN head coach Randy Edsall's name came up quite often early in the process of Syracuse searching for a new head coach of their own. No surprise there, given that Edsall is a Syracuse alum, and he had proven (is still is proving) himself as a fine head coach. As we all know now, Edsall turned down the opportunity to pursue the Syracuse post, and Orange Athletic Director Daryl Gross turned his sights on another Syracuse graduate: Doug Marrone.

It's natural that Edsall would have someone on staff with Syracuse roots, similar to his own. That person, is running backs coach Terry Richardson, who starred as a running back for the Orange(men) in the early 1990's. Wait a second, is Marrone and Syracuse in need of someone to coach their running backs? Why yes they are; what a coincidence.

Doug Marrone has been busy hiring coaches to fill out a staff that he has promised will bring pride back to Orange football and the city of Syracuse. There is a discernible lack of Big East Conference experience in the newly hired staff. The only Big East experience comes from two coaches that Marrone retained from outgoing head coach Greg Robinson's staff (Derrick Jackson and Dan Conley). It would not be a stretch for Marrone to now turn his attention to 10 year Big East coaching veteran (all as UCONN RB coach) Terry Richardson.

Syracuse fans would be quick to point out that there is another Syracuse alum who is a high quality running backs coach in the Big East. David Walker, who was incidentally a teammate of Richardson's at Syracuse, coaches under Dave Wannstedt at the University of Pittsburgh. Some Orange fans might even prefer to have Walker on staff being that he already had a successful stint in Syracuse under Paul Pasqualoni from 2000-2003.

Walker's previous experience at Syracuse may in fact be a detractor for him to come back, even if Doug Marrone were to offer him the job. He may have a "been there, done that" outlook to the situation, and he knows there is a certain degree of stability working at Pitt. Walker also has the good fortune of working with top notch talent in LeSean McCoy, Kevin Collier, and LaRod Stephens-Howling. The talent level of the running backs at Pitt does not seem to be dropping off either; recent recruits include Chris Burns, Cameron Saddler, and Raymond Graham (all rated as four star recruits by

Now back to Terry Richardson. Richardson is losing two major components of his recent success at UCONN: 1.) Offensive Coordinator Rob Ambrose who is leaving to coach Towson State. 2.) Running back Donald Brown who is leaving to pursue opportunities in the NFL. It would be understandable if Brown had at least decided to stay, that Richardson would in turn stick it out in Storrs. He would then be able to coach a potential Doak Walker Award winner, and if things went tremendously well, a Heisman Trophy finalist/winner.

It is widely speculated that Randy Edsall will go outside of the program to fulfill the offensive coordinator post, leaving Richardson without an opportunity to call plays or an overwhelming reason to remain at UCONN. It is also quite likely that Rob Ambrose will be calling the offensive plays at Towson, a role for which Richardson might have been otherwise considered. This leaves Syracuse with an opportunity to offer Richardson his second major college football job and a shot to come back to the school where he had so much success playing football.

Doug Marrone and Syracuse will be getting an excellent college football coach if they hire Terry Richardson. The proof is in the pudding:
  • Coached a top ten Big East rusher every season that UCONN has been in the conference
  • Coached two top ten Big East rushers in a single year on two separate occasions (while UCONN has been in the conference)
  • During UCONN's time in the Big East the team has not been ranked worse than fourth in rushing in the conference under Richardson
  • Career has culminated in coaching the nation's leading rusher in Donald Brown and nation's 13th ranked rushing offense overall

Something else to consider is that Terry Richardson is a native of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He is intimately involved in UCONN's efforts to attract talent from Florida and other southern states. This is the type of experience Marrone would welcome to compliment his stable of coaches who will perpetuate recruiting efforts in the northeast.

It is difficult to say whether or not Terry Richardson will be guiding future Syracuse running backs, but it is entirely plausible to connect the dots that way at the moment. Now that the International Bowl has come and gone, there will be plenty of opportunity for he and Doug Marrone to discuss the potential of a partnership. In the meantime, all one can do is keep their ear to the grindstone and see what develops in the ever evolving world of Big East football coaching.