Bowl an emotional game for USF’s Cronin
TAMPA, Fla. — University of South Florida defensive tackles coach Sean Cronin strolled up to Marshall University cornerbacks coach Mike Treier at the Florida Aquarium to greet him Monday during the Welcome Reception for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
Instantly, the two started cracking jokes and laughing while gathering some other coaches to join in the fun. It was just like old times for Cronin, who as served as a Marshall assistant on three separate occasions. While the atmosphere was comfortable and the laughs flowed, thinking about facing the Herd was admittedly odd for Cronin.
“It’s different,” Cronin said. “It’s definitely different. I have a lot of respect for those guys and I’ve spent a lot of time with them, so also there’s some feeling there.”
Cronin’s most recent stint with the Thundering Herd was from 2013 to 2016 when he was in charge of the defensive ends.
That time frame, plus the position he coached, means when Cronin looks out onto the field at his opponent in Thursday’s game he will be staring at many players helped recruit for Marshall.
“When you look on film and you see how some of those guys have matured as players, there’s some guys that weren’t doing much there when I left who have really built into some good players,” Cronin said. “It’s fun to see that growth and how those guys have developed.”
Marshall defensive tackle Ryan Bee said he was looking forward to seeing Cronin, whom he played for during his early career as a defensive end.
“It’s definitely going to be fun,” Bee said. “He helped a lot of us guys along early, and it’ll be good to see him again.”
Cronin said he has a close relationship with Marshall defensive tackles coach J.C. Price, whom he worked with side-by-side each day in Huntington, and also with Herd head coach Doc Holliday, with whom he worked at the University of Florida when he was a graduate assistant in 2006.
The interesting thing about Cronin’s situation is that when he took the job at USF in February 2017, he went from one coach that he was with at Florida to another, going from Holliday to Bulls’ head coach Charlie Strong, who was the co-defensive coordinator on the 2006 team.
Those family-style ties have always been important to Cronin, who served on Marshall’s staff under former defensive coordinator Chuck Heater. Cronin is married to Heater’s daughter, Emily, and they have four kids — daughters Grace, Caitlin and Mary and son Joseph.
Cronin said it was unlike any situation he’s ever been in as a coach with such close ties on each side. When asked if there was anything that compared, he just smiled.
“I mean, I coached against Cincinnati and I’m from Cincinnati, but never anything like this,” Cronin said. “I love those guys over there and I’m still close with a lot of them. Like I said, this is just different.”