"It’s been everything I expected and everything I signed up for, and I love the job. I really do. I can’t believe I have had the opportunity to coach at Syracuse."
That's how Scott Shafer described his experience coaching Syracuse this year, during his Texas Bowl press conference on Friday. Here are some of the other highlights.
On his first year:
Shafer says he's wanted to be a head coach since he was six or seven years old.
"It’s always been my dream to be a head football coach. I didn’t know if it was going to be high school or college or where; didn’t really care. I just wanted to run a program someday, try to build it, and establish a situation where people know our program for a long time, and take great pride in putting true student athletes out here. I want people one day to say Syracuse has really done a great job establishing themselves in the ACC conference as one of the top tier teams."
But, Shafer noted that he would have continued to serve as a coordinator at Syracuse if Doug Marrone remained the head coach for the next few years. Shafer wanted some stability for his two kids in high school after moving around the country for much of their early years. That's why he was eager to stay in Syracuse and was hopeful to be the choice to replace Marrone.
"I love Syracuse, so I was hoping to coach. I was hoping that Dr. Gross and the folks that have input there would maybe give us a shot to stay and keep the Shafer family close to home, because we really love central New York. It’s a neat place to raise children. We live in a little district right outside of town; Fayetteville-Manlius. Well rounded. Lot of balance. Education, athletics. I really like that part of the country, so for me I was highly motivated to hope and wish that they would give me an opportunity."
Shafer reflected on what Marrone and his fellow coaches were able to do over the past few years.
"I was happy for him and my friends that I worked with there for four years. We took a program that was last in everything, and got us to a co-championship in the Big East, and whenever your friends get an opportunity to realize their dreams in this business and move up, and get an opportunity to coach in the NFL, if that’s what their dreams were, you just feel great for them."
This year, he's tried to "let his coaches coach", a style he says he liked in head coaches he worked under in the past. Shafer said the two biggest differences between being a DC and a head coach are working with offensive players on a daily basis and working with alumni.
On the bowl matchup:
Shafer said the team was very excited, partly because many of the players had never been to Texas. He thanked the Texas Bowl, Dr. Daryl Gross, and the SU administration. He hopes the bowl game will help SU recruit players from the Houston-area like Andrew Luck, who Shafer helped get while at Stanford.
"It helps a lot because you have advertising; free advertising going on and on and on. The kids wouldn’t say it’s free and neither would the coaches because we’re working our buns off, but I think on so many fronts it helps your program. Not only extra practice time, but also the opportunity to continue the process of learning. More football; more videotape time in an environment where the kids aren’t in school anymore either. Which is big. It’s more of an NFL feel to the week."
The players got almost two weeks off to recover from injuries and study for finals, Shafer said. They will be in Houston on Monday to get back to work and "get those callouses back on their shoulders". But he still wants them to have fun.
"The kids and the program have earned an opportunity to play in a great bowl game here in Texas, and I want them to have fun with it. I want them to enjoy the process. I don’t want it to be punishment. You come back and all of a sudden it feels like two-a-days."
So, what's the team going to do with all that time in Texas? Drew Allen, you're from Texas.
"I’m expecting him (Allen) to teach us how to tie a lasso, and throw it. He’s got cowboy boots and stuff, so I figure he’s going to have to be the guy that gives us some advice. I’ve got another kid named (Josh) Kirkland, I’ve been talking about. I think he might be the guy to try to tackle a calf. He’s from Kansas, and there’s something about that guy that I think he could do it. We’re going to start with those two guys and then see what we can do with all these activities, but we’re going to have a lot of fun."
Get your lasso ready, Drew.
On ACC Basketball:
"I’m looking forward to Boeheim playing Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). They’re coming up in a couple of weeks. Jim’s one of the most competitive people in the world. Heck yeah he is. Those matchups are going to be great. North Carolina, NC State on the basketball court. I’m looking forward, hopefully we can get recruiting done, so I can go to a couple of those games."
And of course, it wouldn't be a real press conference unless there was a "Shaferism".
"I think they’ve got a doggone good running back in David Cobb."