ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills reached an agreement to hire Syracuse’s Doug Marrone as their next coach, two people familiar with talks told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Marrone will replace Chan Gailey, who was fired last Monday, a day after the Bills closed their second consecutive season with a 6-10 record. The 48-year-old Marrone went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.
One person told the AP that the deal is done. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there has not been an official announcement. A second person confirmed that the Bills were set on hiring Marrone, who was identified as the team’s leading candidate Saturday night.
ESPN.com, citing league sources, first reported early Sunday that Marrone would be the Bills’ next coach. Messages left with Syracuse officials and Marrone’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, have not been returned.
Syracuse was 26-57 over a seven-year period before Marrone took over at his alma mater. The Orange finished this season 8-5, winning six of their last seven games, including a 38-14 win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Now, he’s set for another challenge two hours down the New York State Thruway.
Marrone takes over a Bills team that has not had a winning record since 2004, when it finished 9-7, and has missed the playoffs for 13 straight seasons. That’s the NFL’s longest active streak.
The Syracuse job was Marrone’s first as a head coach. He has seven years of NFL experience. Marrone spent 2006-08 as the New Orleans Saints’ offensive coordinator and was the New York Jets’ offensive line coach from 2002-05.
The Bills’ decision to go with Marrone came on a day they were scheduled to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The meeting, however, was postponed by McCoy, according to a person familiar with the coach’s plans. The person said McCoy asked that the Bills reschedule the meeting because he was already interviewing for several other coaching vacancies this weekend.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bills and McCoy have not revealed their plans.
As the AFC’s top seed, the Broncos are off until opening the playoffs Jan. 12. They allotted time for interested teams to interview McCoy in Denver this weekend. McCoy is a candidate for jobs in Philadelphia, Arizona and Chicago.
The Bills opened their coaching search Tuesday, when newly promoted President Russ Brandon and several executives traveled to Arizona, where they interviewed candidates. They met with former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The Bills also interviewed Oregon coach Chip Kelly and former Bears coach Lovie Smith.
On Friday, the Bills confirmed they had interviewed Marrone, but they did not reveal when or where that meeting took place.
Marrone had also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their vacancy.