Some time ago, you may recall a news piece that named Doug Marrone as the Nicest College Coach in America. I will not try and prove that wrong, as I had the pleasure of meeting him, and he was very nice. But mark it down, I'm saying Shafer is going to give old Dougie a run for his money.
I'm not sure why, but after a discussion with someone about Shafer, I felt compelled to write him. From comments on syracuse.com, to comments from people who thought he was perhaps the wrong choice, I thought he could use a vote of confidence from the average season ticket holder. It was real basic. I introduced myself, explained how I've been going to games since early childhood, that I like whats going on so far, enjoyed the pressers, was pleased with the staff he put together, etc. I also mentioned the fact I appreciate the fact that he is really high on the student athlete, and how they're working to mold young men into decent successful citizens. Basically just a support letter, letting him know that I believed he was the right guy for the job.
Days later I was shocked to see an orange envelope in my mailbox that contained a letter from Coach Shafer. I would think a simple letter of support would not get anything in return, and certainly was not expecting it. Even if the main body of this letter is pre-written and mass distributed, he took the time from his ridiculous schedule to add a little hand written message that was relevant to something in my letter. Very. Cool.
As I was wandering the field after the spring game, there was a decent gathering around Shafer, so I thought I would join the fun. Waiting my turn, I heard him talk to little kids (the little kid that did the youtube video of the basketball starting lineup for one. Shafer said "you all know who this is? This is a youtube sensation!"), and talk to a young man about his future in college football, and a lower level school that might be good for him. I wasn't sure if I should bring up the whole "I'm the letter guy" or not, but listening to others introduce themselves I decided I would. I asked him for a photo for the bar, and introduced myself with a handshake. Before I could get the whole letter explanation out, he said "Oh yeah! Man I really appreciate that". He asked me if the surrounding children were my family, and I introduced my kids. He asked if they had fun, and tried to shake my three year old sons hand. Being too shy, he passed, so Shafer just gave him a little poke or something along those lines. He told me to get everyone in for the picture, and that was that.
As we stepped away, I told him I was shocked to get a response, and that I appreciated it. He said "well I appreciate you, and you guys enjoy what's left of your weekend".
Then he probably went and yelled at some football players.
Now I've been in a similar situation with Marrone, and he was very nice and accommodating, just nowhere near as personable. This guy is a gem.
The only thing he has left to do is win.