Why Syracuse Football needs a turn for the better and quickly
On a chilly typical Syracuse November afternoon in 2015, the Syracuse Orange football team took the field for what was most certainly their last game of the season. Coming into the game at 3-8 during an awkward and frustrating season was an understatement.
Head Coach Scott Shafer was prepared to coach his last game for the university. In a season where Syracuse played surprisingly well with 10-point losses to No. 8 LSU and No. 2 Clemson on top of the program’s first 3-0 start since before I was born (1997), there was upside and some potential for a bowl game with Syracuse football this season.
The season, however, derailed as Syracuse saw some horrendous and heartbreaking losses along the way. A defense that gave up 31 points per game was also not something to marvel at. A head coach, who won his final game at Syracuse, 20-17, over Boston College, finished his Syracuse days being carried on the shoulders of some of his most beloved senior players.
Was it odd that a head coach with an overall record of 14-23 was being carried off the field and celebrated by fans at the Carrier Dome?
Not one bit. The Syracuse community, (most of it anyway) grew to appreciate Coach Shafer’s odd but unique style focused heavily on discipline, determination and love and respect for his player’s co-coaches. To be completely honest, I disagreed with the decision to fire Coach Shafer.
I loved how passionate Shafer was about Syracuse. Growing up, Syracuse has been a laughing stock of D-1 Football since about 2004. 2005 and 2007 saw the worst marks Syracuse has ever seen in its more than 110-year history. 2005 saw a 1-10 record and 2007 saw 2-10.
An era that saw Head Coach Greg Robinson go 10-35, followed by a 25-25 mark with Coach Doug Marrone.
The move to the ACC in 2013 marked Shafer’s first full season, with the team going 7-6 and winning a bowl game. The path was headed seemingly in the right direction. However, the Orange unfortunately fell to 3-9 and 4-8 in the coming seasons, seeing Shafer’s tenure at Syracuse end.
Brand new Athletic Director Mark Coyle only saw Shafer coach one season before firing him. That was hard to swallow. A football program destroyed by Greg Robinson and that saw hardly if any emotion of Doug Marrone enjoying Syracuse made the program look dull and boring. Schools like Rutgers and UConn began recruiting harder and better and taking away the recruits Syracuse would virtually hand pick in the late 80’s and 90’s was a distant memory. It was nice to see a coach care so much for Syracuse and Syracuse football and to get the program back on track towards success. A head coach who cried the last time at the podium at Syracuse and on multiple occasions banged the podium with his great presence and right arm mostly, proclaiming, “I’m the luckiest guy alive.” Let’s be honest with ourselves, not many people claim to be the luckiest guy alive to live in the “wonderful” winter wonderland Syracuse can be. A move was made and didn’t work out, bummer but the search for a new head coach began immediately. December 5th 2015 Dino Babers of Bowing Green was named Head Coach of Syracuse University and put on quite the show in his opening press conference. Babers made everyone in close their eyes and listen to him as he portrayed a loud Carrier Dome and a no huddle offense would bring a new style of football that the Carrier Dome has never seen. Now that the stage has been set, The Orange play a tough schedule next year with road games at Clemson, Pittsburgh and a neutral site at MetLife stadium with Notre Dame is no easy feat as your first season as an Syracuse head coach. The task for Babers is difficult but achievable and a turn for the better is once again hopeful, but will it actually happen. Only time will tell as we now wait for training camp and eventually the 1st game Dino Babers will coach at Syracuse University. September 3rd at the Carrier Dome against Colgate University. The passion of Scott Shafer cannot be forgotten, we have to forget the Roberson, Marrone era and remember the positives Scott Shafer left the community feeling at Orange Football games. Imagine if Dino Babers can combine the two of a winning team and love and passion for a Syracuse University. What a deadly mix it could be…