After a tenure mostly filled with questions on play-calling, overall scheme and decision-making, George McDonald has been relieved of his duties and title as offensive coordinator. But what does that mean for his rol ewith the Syracuse football program?
As Sean pointed out earlier today, it likely means he's gone following this season. But there are still (at least) seven games remaining in the Orange's 2014 season, so in any capacity, he's still here for now, even if he won't be calling plays. And believe it or not, that presents him (and the team) with a golden opportunity: He can reinvent himself now.
A little less than a week ago, McDonald sounded like a man who either could not be wrong or had no fear of what happened next at Syracuse (or both). It's not a great look for a coach (or anyone) under fire, and you'd have to think that the uproar amongst the fan base following that interview was part of the decision to demote him. Now, without the spotlight of being offensive coordinator -- one he wasn't all that comfortable with, at least from this point of view -- he can go back to focusing on wide receivers, which was his specialty to begin with.
Before arriving at Syracuse, McDonald's career revolved around recruiting and wide receivers. We'll leave the first item to another conversation (because trust us, we're thinking about that too), but that second item is of particular interest and importance to the Orange right now. As has been well-documented, SU's receivers have left something to be desired for the past two seasons now. McDonald has experience both as a wide receiver himself (Illinois), as well as a receivers coach with Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Minnesota, Miami and the NFL's Cleveland Browns. This guy SOUNDS LIKE a wide receivers coach. And look: We don't have one of those right now. Well, now we do.
Look, I know I've been one of many carrying a torch and pitchfork about McDonald's play-calling and this offense since last season. But that never meant I didn't want him to succeed, and to be honest, I still do now. Just in a different capacity. As a coach focusing specifically on our wide receivers, perhaps McDonald will be able to assist in getting more out of Ashton Broyld and Brisly Estime, helping the extremely talented Steve Ishmael continue to develop, and assist Ben Lewis in being even more reliable than he's already displayed. It's still early; maybe under McDonald's guidance, we finally see something out of Quinta Funderburk. Or maybe (just maybe), Jarrod West goes and fulfills all of that potential.
See, rooting for McDonald to fail on his way out is cutting off our collective noses to spite our face, as Syracuse fans. Yes, he's very likely heading elsewhere after this year. But in the meantime, he could use an image rehab while auditioning for his next job, and we could use an improved core of wide receivers. It didn't work out for him as OC, and that's OKAY. As long as all parties are better off going their separate ways. There's an opportunity for that to happen, and for the program's (and fanbase's) sake, I sincerely hope it does.
Please help fix our receivers, Coach McDonald! I have some faith that you can and will. And i honestly want you to. It may sound weird coming from me, specifically, of all people on the internet. But please, help us out. It could springboard you to a pretty nice position elsewhere next season.