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Sports

Syracuse hires Greg Robinson as coach

By JOHN KEKIS

AP Sports Writer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- After 30 years as an assistant coach in the college and pro ranks, Greg Robinson finally realized his career goal of becoming a head coach by accepting the job at Syracuse.

A year to the day after resigning as the defensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs and after a short, but successful stint at Texas, Robinson was introduced as the new coach of the Orange on Tuesday.

"It has been a long time coming," Robinson said, a little more than an hour after arriving on campus. "It's funny how your blessings come, but I am really glad that the opportunity is coming now in my career. I've been waiting 30 years for this. It's been a long, hard road."

The 53-year-old Robinson spent 15 years in the college ranks before jumping to the NFL for 14 years, including stints as defensive coordinator with Kansas City and Denver. He also was an assistant with the New York Jets from 1990-94, and last season returned to college as co-defensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns.

Robinson succeeds Paul Pasqualoni, who was fired Dec. 29 by new athletic director Daryl Gross. The firing came eight days after Syracuse lost to Georgia Tech 51-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Gross, who took over in early December for the retiring Jake Crouthamel, said he wanted a defensive-minded coach, and Robinson has made an impact more than once. His Kansas City defense in 2003 produced 36 sacks, 25 interceptions and forced 37 turnovers, giving the Chiefs a plus-19 turnover margin, tops in the NFL.

But in the first round of the playoffs, Peyton Manning picked apart that defense for 304 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-31 victory that put the Indianapolis Colts into the AFC title game and prompted Robinson to resign.

He landed in Texas, and the Longhorns also excelled, going 11-1 and beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. During the regular season, the Texas defense allowed 102 fewer points than it gave up in 12 games the previous year and did not allow a third-quarter touchdown until Michigan scored in the Rose Bowl.

"We didn't want someone that was just going to be competitive with the rest of the coaches in the Big East. We wanted someone special," said Gross, who declined to reveal terms of the contract. "This is going to be a lot of fun, and we're going to have a blast doing this together."

In 14 seasons at Syracuse, Pasqualoni was 107-59-1 and 6-3 in bowl games, but the Orange struggled the past three years, going 4-8 in 2002 and 6-6 in each of the last two seasons after finishing 10-3 and ranked 14th in the nation in 2001.

Two of Pasqualoni's longtime assistants -- George DeLeone and David Walker -- already have left for other jobs, but Robinson said he would begin interviewing the remaining coaches on Wednesday and was hopeful he could retain some continuity in the program.

Robinson, who inherits a team with 15 returning starters, met briefly with some of the players. Two of them -- tailback Damien Rhodes and defensive back Anthony Smith -- watched the news conference from the back of the room and said they walked away with a positive feeling. And the giant Super Bowl ring Robinson was wearing on his right hand -- one of two he won with the Broncos -- certainly made a lasting impression.

"That's a pretty big ring," said Smith, who had been disillusioned at Pasqualoni's firing. "I'm ready to play for him."

Said Rholes, who will be a senior, "I am looking forward to getting this thing going. He obviously knows what he is doing. He has the track record to prove that."

Pasqualoni remains in Syracuse and is exploring opportunities as an assistant in the NFL. Robinson said he would consult with him over the next few days.

"I know what Paul has done, and I know what Paul is all about," Robinson said. "The program has been in good hands."

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