Was there ever really any doubt?
Sure, we had all heard the reports of how good Ryan Nassib had looked in camp.
But Ryan Nassib has one thing going for him that Greg Paulus doesn't.
Lots of time.
Provided he doesn't take the path of 17 of his former teammates this past year and leave the program, Ryan Nassib has a few years left at Syracuse University.
Greg Paulus? Not so much.
And that scenario fit perfectly into what we know about the coaching style of Doug Marrone.
A style where patience is not a virtue...
Doug Marrone has preached from the beginning that Greg Paulus would have to earn the starting QB job at Syracuse.
Doug Marrone has also proven in his short time at Syracuse that he isn't a very patient man.
The man has brushed aside all talk of "rebuilding" at Syracuse and has consistently said his job is to win football games, however it takes, as soon as it takes.
Marrone proved this impatience back on July 27 on my radio show on ESPN Radio 1260 when I asked him how quickly he wanted to make the call on his starting QB for 2009 in training camp. "Yes I do like to make quick decisions. I just want to make sure we understand, I like to make quick, educated decisions in the time period. We don't have a lot of time at practice. Where as, if you think about it, we had 14 practices in the spring. The practice before the spring game, in my mind, doesn't count. We had 14 practices during spring. That is not a lot of to prepare a team to play the game of football. Now we go into the preseason. Again, we are limited by the amount of time we can practice, but it is more than the spring.
In my mind, the faster we can get the starting line up set on each side of the ball plus special teams, then we can start working towards the player strengths. I like to make quick decisions if the players have separated themselves, this way we can start working on their strengths and put us in the best position to win."
I'd say one week fits the mold of a "quick, educated decision."
This had to be the move all the way, didn't it?
The moment Greg Paulus made it official that he intended to play football at Syracuse University, the common belief was it would take a monumental failure for him not to get on the field this season.
With time not on his side, but highlight films of All-America QB past on his side, if he proved to Marrone, Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence, and to himself that he still had "it", he was going to get his shot.
This was a quarterback competition unlike any we had ever seen at Syracuse and likely will never see again.
It is also one of the most unique stories in college football this season.
Let's be honest here, if Ryan Nassib was named the starting QB at Syracuse last night, it doesn't become "breaking news" on ESPNEWS as the Paulus story was.
This has been the expected move all the way and it is the right one. Even the most hard-core Paulus hater would still be curious as to what his talent level was.
Thoughts of "does he still have it?" or "what does he have?" would be too hard to ignore.
Staring at Greg Paulus' # 2 jersey standing on the sideline while Ryan Nassib took the field vs Minnesota on September 5 would have presented a very, very big pink elephant in the room.
Starting Paulus not only gives him the chance to prove he earned the job, it also settles everyone's curiosity.
Yours. Mine. Doug Marrone's. Even Greg's.
It is the right move for that reason and it is also the right move for Ryan Nassib.
If Nassib were named the starter, he could go out on September 5 and fire five touchdowns vs Minnesota and everyone in the building and watching at home would have wondered if Paulus would have thrown six.
Starting Paulus answers the question once and for all. If it doesn't work out, Nassib gets to take the baton and enter the conquering hero and get the chance to prove he is the QB of the future at Syracuse.
Paulus doesn't have that kind of time. His future is yesterday. The minute SU coaches signed on with this, they knew time was not on their side. A decision had to be made quickly and that it was.
I have been asked a lot what it would mean if Greg Paulus doesn't work out.
Here is what it means. If Paulus "fails", Nassib gets to ring the bell.
It is really as simple as that folks.
If Paulus "fails" as quarterback, then, you know what, Doug Marrone tried.
Doug Marrone took a chance on a kid who once had several Division I programs laying out the red carpet for him.
Doug Marrone took a chance, when he has the luxury to do so, to try and jump start the revival of a program that was at one time, well, not in a position to have to try starting former Duke point guards at QB to revive the program.
Marrone is playing with house money right now and starting Paulus doesn't make him put all that money in the middle of the table. He still has plenty put aside.
He still has Ryan Nassib to turn to.
Frankly, Paulus could go out and look like dog meat on the field and I'll never label this move as a "failure".
The Greg Paulus move itself has brought more exposure, headlines, buzz, and excitement to a program than a first-year head coach (and a large marketing budget) could ever dream of.
There can't be a loser in this.
If Greg can't play, Greg can't play. He was "supposed" to fail anyway, right?
He hasn't played competitive football in five years! The "I knew it" crowd will have its day.
You thank him for his time and you move on. It will give him more time to prepare for his coaching gig with Jim Boeheim this winter.
But what if he works?
Oh yeah, no one thinks about that, do they?
What if the Greg Paulus experiment works?
Then we enjoy the ride.
We watch one of the most unique stories in the history of Syracuse Football unfold before our very eyes and smile that the Doug Marrone era got off to such a blazing start.
Ryan Nassib (and Charley Loeb for that matter) get to sit back and learn from it all and not have to play when maybe neither was ready to step in and take the keys to the car.
Get ready, Syracuse fans.
Greg Paulus has 18 days with his new title as "starting quarterback" to grab command of this team and get ready for one of the most anticipated starts under the teflon roof of all time.
We know time is not on his side.
Will you be?
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Brent Axe is also the host of "On the Block" heard weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 1260 in Syracuse and simulcast on Time Warner Cable Sports. You can listen to the show online by clicking right here