Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on October 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm TAMPA, Fla. — There was a scene of vindication in the Syracuse locker room. The moment was six seasons in the making. Chants, song and raucous celebration carried over from the field into the tunnel. But most telling about this win was the reaction of the man who had waited almost two long years for this to occur. For that time, Doug Marrone has talked about his plan with the same stoic rhetoric. He rarely breaks from character. He is the same Doug Marrone through and through, in the aftermath of an impressive 35-point win over Colgate at home or a 21-point shelling at the hands of Washington. But on Saturday, when discussing SU’s 13-9 victory over South Florida, he broke from character. For the second time in his SU head coaching career, Doug Marrone wiped a tear from his face. ‘I’m happy for the players,’ Marrone said while discussing the victory, his voice starting to noticeably shift as he began to choke up. ‘I’m happy for the people when we go back to Syracuse. I’m happy for the student body — and I know I get teary-eyed… ‘Because there is something to believe.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Something to believe. It’s the most candid statement Marrone has given in his 22 months on the job. The last time Marrone formed tears at a press conference, it was in defending Greg Paulus, a quarterback who, in November, was on the way out and already a lost cause to the SU fan base. Saturday proved, finally, that the Marrone era is far from a lost cause. But until Saturday, all that rhetoric was just that — rhetoric. And judging from his teary statements this time around, Marrone knows that. Because no matter how much you harp on the overall improvement of your team — and Marrone would do so at every single opportunity — eventually, there has to be tangible results. Saturday was a tangible result: Syracuse 13, South Florida 9. The Orange went on the road to face a team it had never beaten in program history. It was a 3-1 team still with all the odds stacked against it, with plenty of people content to believe a less-than-stellar schedule was the primary culprit for the quick start. And though it was ugly at parts, SU came out victorious. This is the first concrete evidence of the plan coming along. ‘We haven’t been here in this position in a long time,’ SU senior linebacker Doug Hogue said. ‘I’ve never felt anything like this before. It’s great. … That’s how we want to feel. In the past, losing, we don’t want to have that feeling anymore.’ Words, rhetoric, have so far become reality. Thus far, Marrone has backed up the bowl-or-bust talk he and his players so vigorously cemented in preseason camp. Syracuse sits more than halfway to the first big step in the plan. And in one of the biggest signals of the shift in the tide, it came against a team the Orange had failed to even compete with the past five seasons, never coming closer than 14 points in the final score. ‘In the past, we came down here and we lost,’ linebacker Derrell Smith said. ‘They came up (to Syracuse) and they beat us. They may have felt we were underdogs. Hopefully, we’re not taken lightly the rest of the year.’ At the end of this year, and perhaps years from now, we might look at this win as the start of something big in the Marrone era. And the next step is the follow-up. In front of what’s sure to be a bigger crowd than usual next week at the Carrier Dome, when the preseason Big East favorites, Pittsburgh, come into town. For this to be a turning point, the Orange must challenge the next two weeks on the road at West Virginia and Cincinnati. Marrone knows it. For that, he returned to his stoic nature. ‘I think it’s one of those games you look at after the season and say, ‘Hey, that was really big to do,” Marrone said. ‘It all depends on how we do from here on out, as to how we will look at this game.’ For now, though, it’s the necessary tangible first step. Toward Big East title contention. Toward a bowl. Toward something to believe in. Brett LoGiurato is an assistant sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.