Was there ever any doubt? New conference is one thing, but a new coach at the helm of a football program will almost always dominate headlines. Combine the two, throw in the intrigue of a potential lifer head coach leaving along with a quarterback race hidden to protect gamblers and you've got the 2013 Syracuse Orange under Scott Shafer.
Less about will they be able to succeed in the ACC. I don't think that the ACC is that much better than the old Big East that the Orange will automatically be shuffled back down to the basement. But the story has to be how Scott Schafer will do in his first season. -Chris
[Shafer]'s been the defensive coordinator, a proven member of the rise of Syracuse football under Doug Marrone. He's been talked about so much it feels like he's been head coach for years. But come August 31, Scott Shafer will be in charge of a team during a game for the first time in his career. Remember Greg Robinson? Yikes! I know Shafer is no Robinson, but where will this new guy fall in the pantheon of Syracuse coaches? A question we won't know for a few seasons, but year one will surely tell us a lot. Shafer has hit all the right notes during the off-season (hardnosed has become an actual thing) but we all really have no clue what his teams will look like. Not to mention, if there is a step backward this season, expected by the way given all the change with the program, how long will it take Shafer to get back at least where Doug Marrone had it? -Matt
In a way, Scott Shafer's first season is one of the most critical in SU football history. It has to set a tone of upward mobility and positive reinforcement for the program. Otherwise, we might just end up being exactly what everyone expects us to be. Can we compete with Clemson and FSU? Can we take care of business? Are we really on the same level as the schools we think we are? -Sean
That about sums up all of the variables in year one of the Shafer Era at Syracuse. This year's ACC is really not all that more difficult than another Big East season would be. (Wake Forest, Pitt, Maryland, BC, Clemson vs say USF, Rutgers, UConn and Louisville) So because of that, is another bowl appearance too much to ask of a first year head coach with an inexperienced starting quarterback?
To Matt's points, Shafer has done all of the right things so far. From colorful press conference one liners to showing up at Home to the Dome, the newest SU head coach is doing all he can to be just as loved as his predecessor. However, the fact that he is just the second coach removed from the Greg Robinson era isn't forgotten. In the new ACC, can Shafer's team be a counted on for 6-8 wins per year?
Ultimately, Shafer's run is going to be important for SU. He will ultimately be the coach that led the Orange into their new conference, for better or for worse. And with that comes the realization that in 3-4 years, should Shafer have success, the Orange fanbase will question his "loyalty" to the program and his contract.
I'm 100% sure the 2013-14 Syracuse athletic season will present it's ups and downs and deliver some unforgettable moments as we all prepare for the first year of Syracuse in the ACC.