ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Doug Marrone is set to try to turn around an NFL team after improving a college program down the road.
Marrone reached an agreement to become the Buffalo Bills' new coach Sunday, three people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. One person said the sides were still putting the finishing touches on the contract for Marrone to sign.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because there has not been an official announcement.
Marrone will replace Chan Gailey, who was fired Dec. 31, a day after the Bills closed their second consecutive season with a 6-10 record and extended the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 13 seasons. The 48-year-old Marrone, who is from the Bronx, went 25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse.
ESPN.com first reported early Sunday that Marrone would be leaving the Orange to become the Bills' next coach.
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 victory over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.
A person who had a role in hiring Marrone in Syracuse, speaking on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced, said Orange officials had been made aware the coach was leaving for the NFL.
Now, he's set for another challenge two hours down the New York State Thruway. He'll be taking over a team that has not had a winning record since 2004, is on its fifth head coach since 2001, and closed last season by losing seven of its final 10 games.
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.
Marrone's arrival in New Orleans coincided with the Saints' addition of Drew Brees. Though head coach Sean Payton called the plays on game day, Marrone helped oversee an offense that led the NFL in yards in 2006 and ‘08. In 2007, the Saints set a league record with 440 completions.