For a Pitt team that’s struggled to run the football in recent years, new wide receivers coach Brennan Marion’s Go-Go offense may provide a solution.
Marion, who came to Pitt after recent stops at Hawaii, William & Mary and Howard, invented the offense as a way to run offense for teams that might be facing a talent deficit.
“If you’re not sound in the trenches, you’re gonna really struggle in football,” Marion said. “[The Go-Go offense] gives you an opportunity to make a big play even though you’re lacking up front.”
Marion emphasized how Pitt’s offensive coaches work by committee: as the new guy in town, the other coaches are trying to learn how he thinks and incorporate his offensive philosophy into their own. As such, his scheme could find a home in the broader picture of the Panthers offense.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s known many of the Panthers coaches for years, meeting them as he rose through the coaching ranks.
Marion took many stops on his path to become a Power Five coach, coaching high school ball in California before moving on to Arizona State, Oklahoma Baptist, Howard, William and Mary, and Hawaii. His familiarity with large swathes of the country (and it’s inhabitants) will help him when recruiting.
“I’ve lived in all the hotbeds of recruiting… I can get around people, understand them, and ultimately [recruit] them,” Marion said.
Marion repeated how important personal relationships are to him throughout his interview.
“It’s relationship driven, how you drive somebody else… the only way I’m going to [make players] better is by creating that relationship with them.”
Though he’s moved all over the country, this isn’t Marion’s first stop in Western Pennsylvania. He went to high school at Greensburg Salem, and credits the lessons he learned then as part of his success.
“The toughness is what drives us here [in Pittsburgh],” Marion said. “All the people that I meet from Pittsburgh are pretty successful, and they all equate it to their upbringing [here].
Marion’s playing career helps him reach out to his players personally as well. He had to go to junior college before earning a scholarship at Tulsa, so he knows how to work hard. He also knows the importance of moderation, though, courtesy of an ACL tear his senior year that tanked his draft stock.
“The reason that I got hurt, honestly, is that I was a gym rat, nonstop, seven days a week. It helped me learn patience, learn how to deal with things with players and people,” Marion said.
Marion tried to meet the challenges he faced in his playing career with his head held high. His mother taught him that when he was young, and he tries to impart that to the next generation of players as well.
“I don’t operate on how I feel [or what’s going on in the midst of my circumstances. I just continue to keep pushing and moving forward,” Marion said.
Marion was quick to mention the tools that have helped him succeed as a coach, but he admitted that it doesn’t come easy, especially when joining a new team.
“I didn’t recruit these guys out of high school, so we don’t have that rapport. Right now we’re just building trust,” Marion said. “Obviously with film I’m able to go back, look at what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
Luckily, film study isn’t a grind for Marion, who considers himself a student of the game.
“I’ve always been obsessed with football. I love every single thing that comes with football, every piece of it,” Marion said.