It's hard to recap the season objectively so close to a final disappointment. But let me try.
#1. 5-7 was a disappointment. Not an embarrassment like the G-Rob years. Not a debacle. Not something you fire your head coach over. Just a disappointment. At 5-2, there was talk of BCS game appearances. If you were willing to go out enough decimal places, we even had a BCS standing score. Nobody expected us to REALLY be 10-2. However, nobody really expected us to be 5-7 either. Somewhere between 6 and 8 wins would have been par.
#2. It will be said, but this year had a very big G-Rob component too it. Setting aside West Virginia, is there any game that really stood out as a "good game" for us? We barely beat Wake Forest, Rhode Island, Toledo, and Tulane. Our 5-2 is a mirage, but if life gifts you a TD, you need to kick that extra point. We lost, despite getting 5 turnovers in a game. That is very hard to do.
#3. All three phases of our team stunk. Our defense was expected to be the weak link and was. The surprising thing is how it got weaker as we got healthier from games 8 through 10. Once P. Thomas went away, we were toast. Our offense HAD to carry the team. And yet we routinely had HALVES of games where we looked like we were playing on grease. Just about every game had a drive or two where you could think "why can't we do this more?" But most games did not have nearly enough of them. We got a year older and more experienced, but pretty much stayed the same. See all games after Halloween. Special teams had some good moments against West Virginia, some lucky moments, but was mostly bad. If three phases cannot work, you are going to have a bad year.
#4. With all of the above, you would think we were 2-10. But somehow we won 5 games. We had something to play for each and every week. The season ended with a thud, but we've seen basketball seasons end with a thud too--playing our way right onto the bubble and ending up on the wrong side. Nobody was escorting Boeheim out the door. And only the trolliest of trolls were arguing otherwise. When you lose 5 in a row it stinks... but we had relevance all year long.
#5. Anyone thinking HCDM should be fired really needs to ponder about that some more. A) we didn't fire G-Rob after 3 seasons... and he was 7-28. Why would we fire a coach who is 17-20 with a bowl win? That's just insane. B) you don't fire a coach who has resurrected our program. While we hoped our resurrected program would look a little better, it was dead just a few years ago. C) HCDM has had the three seasons that Coach P had before we hired G-Rob. We are back to where we were pre-GRob. Now it is time to build. D) Who would we hire anyway? Why have program turmoil when we can just tweak by employing a new offensive scheme (more on that later)?
#6. As kotite4ever seem to agree on (to the point where I hear someone is going to tell us to get a room), this offense just does not work. It is not made for college. It requires precision and execution--things that work a lot better when you are a pro team with unlimited practice time, than with a college team capped at 20 hours (unless you are RichRod). It requires a good OL and good receivers, things that Syracuse no longer features. Get a spread offensive OC from the MAC and let's go to work.
#7. Let's not give Shafer a pass here either. He gets a huge benefit of the doubt for those early season games when Jones, Thomas, and Fisher were out. But as those guys returned, we got worse. We had virtually no pass rush from our defensive line all year. We were poor against the run. Tackling regressed. Sacks were down. Turnovers remained few and far between. Guys were wide open in zones. We made bad quarterbacks look good and mediocre QBs look great. We invite teams to beat themselves and only Geno Smith obliged. He's had 3 bad seasons out of 4. Let's hope last year's senior-laden class was not the anomaly.
#8. Coming off a bowl win, he got the benefit of the doubt. But I suggest HCDM follow up his new OC hire with a special teams coach hire. Whatever is going on is not working. We are useless on punt returns. We haven't blocked a kick or punt in his tenure (that I can remember). We commit penalties. I am not sure Kathy Ireland cannot kickoff farther than everyone we roll out. We lost ample field position on punts. If we are playing the uber-conservative game, why do we suck so badly at special teams--where field position can be greatly influenced?
#9. Nassib. I can think of many great passes. I think he would be pretty damn good in a system with elite WRs and better blocking. But that's not Syracuse. And isn't about to be. Even so, I wonder whether he has the touch to do well in that type of system. I consider him too afraid to make interceptions. How many passes against Pitt would have been better if we had just dropped it? Do we need to get Bailey killed? I like the kid, but you can't lose 5 games in a row against this level of competition (an average at best Big East) and inspire confidence. And the Pitt game was influenced greatly by his mistakes. All in all, if someone told me we were going to run the spread with Kinder, I am not sure that I would be sad. Nassib had two seasons... and did not improve enough Year #2. You need points in the college game.
#10. It is what it is. Maybe this team makes zero changes and comes out with a 12-0 season next year. That's pretty much what happened in 1987. It was just as unlikely. Nobody at the end of the season in 1986 had ANY confidence that we were on the right track. Instead, it was Sack Mac. While that's not enough to be confident, it is enough to remain something other than suicidal. It is what it is.
Life will go on. And we'll get one more season in before the Mayan thing happens...