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How Have Syracuse Football Coaches Fared In Their Debut (& 1st Penn State Game)?

Going back to 1920, how have rookie SU coaches fared in their debut? And how have they done against Penn State the first go-round?


Even though it's a fruitless exercise in forced meaning, I thought it would interesting nonetheless to take a look down memory lane at what previous Syracuse Orange football coaches debuted with as we prepare for Scott Shafer to do the same. As we're doing it, we'll also look at how each coach fared against the Penn St. Nittany Lions, rival of rivals.

For the sake of sanity, we'll only go back to when Syracuse and Penn State starting playing one another, The 1920's.

John "Chick" Meehan (1920-1924) - Coach Chick got off to a great starting, winning his first game 55-7 over Hobart. In his third season, the first-ever Syracuse-Penn St. game took place and ended in a 0-0 tie. It was actually one two SU games that season to end scoreless.

Charles "Pete" Reynolds (1925-1926) - Hobart was once again the tasty morsel thrown to a rookie SU coach. The Orangemen cruised to a 32-0 win in a season in which they gave up a grand total of 27 points. Their sixth game of the season was against Penn St. and ended up their sixth win of the season, a 7-0 pitcher's duel.

Lew Andreas (1927-1929) - The longtime SU basketball coach briefly dabbled with the football team, getting off to a great start against, who else, Hobart, in a 13-0 win. After a hot start the team sputtered and a 9-6 loss to Penn State was just one stumble along the way.

Vic Hansen (1930-1936) - The original multi-sport SU star, Hansen took over the program in 1930 and kicked things off with a 55-0 demolition of Rensselaer Tech (Hobart was his second win). The Orange would meet Penn State later in the season and play to yet another 0-0 tie. Those early years were pretty lean on the scoreboard.

Oscar "Ossie" Solem (1937-1945) - Solem came over from Iowa and got off to a good start with a 26-6 win over Clarkson. He kept the ball rolling for a successful first year with a 19-13 win over Penn State. Both teams scored in double-digits! Adjusted for inflation, that was basically a 72-70 game.

Clarence "Biggie" Munn (1946) - Yes, we had a head coach called Biggie. He spent one season with the Orange before shipping off to Michigan State. Before he left, he won his first game 41-6 over Boston U but got beat by PSU, 9-0. I guess Michigan St. wanted to get their tradition of losing to Penn State going early.

Reaves Baysinger (1947-1948) - Baysinger's two-year stint was forgettable, though it did begin with a 14-7 win over Niagara. A 40-0 loss to the Nittany Lions a few games later was a sign of things to come.

Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder (1949-1973) - Big Ben remains the architect of Syracuse Football and its patron saint. However, things got off to a rocky start with a 33-21 loss to Boston. A 33-21 loss to Penn State later that year would be 2nd of three games SU would give up 33 points that season. Weird.

Frank Maloney (1974-1980) - Maloney's tenure isn't remembered all too fondly but it did get off on the right foot thanks to a 23-15 win over the Oregon St. Beavers. The Orangemen would lose to the Lions 30-14 that season and Maloney would never beat PSU once during his time with SU.

Dick MacPherson (1981-1990) - Coach Mac's reign of terror begin ignominiously with a 29-27 loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. A 41-16 loss to Penn State later that season wouldn't help matters, but Dick would use these lessons to rebuild SU Football from the ashes.

Paul Pasqualoni (1991-2004) - Coach P inherited a pretty good program from Coach Mac and cruised to a 37-10 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores in his first game. Crazily, despite running the SU football program for fourteen seasons, he is the only coach on this list to have never played Penn State.

He Who Shall Not Be Named (2005-2008) - HWSNBN lost his first game, obviously, a 15-7 loss to West Virginia. The SU-PSU series was renewed in his final season and it pretty much sealed the deal on his fate. On the same weekend The Express premiered in Syracuse and the game was nationally-televised, the Nittany Lions embarrassed the Orange, 55-13.

Doug Marrone (2009-2012) - Marrone's first season was also the last time Syracuse played Penn State. The Marrone Era started off with a tough 23-20 loss to Minnesota in the Dome. The Orange would follow that game up with a 28-7 loss* to the Lions, though then-coach Joe Paterno noted how this SU squad played much touger than the previous one.

*Penn State vacated that victory as one of their many vacated games due to you-know-what. I leave it up to you to decide if you're going to count it.

So since 1920, rookie head coaches have gone 9-4 in their first game (2-4 since Schwartzwalder) and 2-8-2 in their first game against Penn State. Now you know. Scott Shafer gets to kill two birds with one stone as he'll coach his very first SU game against the Nittany. Let's hope he bucks the trends.