There was a moment in 2007 when I realized Greg Robinson was a lost cause. It was August 31, 2007. I had talked myself into the narrative that Syracuse was progressing. 1 win in 2005 led to 4 wins in 2006, and that was moving forward. It was wishful thinking, for sure, as anyone who watched that 2006 squad knew it was a dumpster fire that had a slightly easier schedule than the 2005 team.
All my friends had left the game already. It was Friday night - the first weekend back at school actually - and it wasn't worth ruining a good night watching that junk. I stayed, along with my future wife who clearly was already a saint for sticking around for that.
The third quarter was coming to a close, and SU was trailing 35-6. There was no way we were scoring 29 points, that was for sure, but you still have to play out the game. The Orange actually made their way across midfield and faced a fourth and 3 at the Washington 47.
Robinson elected to punt.
That was the only Syracuse game I ever left early. I couldn't take it anymore. I figured if the team had given up, I had every right to give up too. I knew the season was going down in flames, and I knew Robinson would never be a good coach.
Flash forward to November 22, 2014. Syracuse is trailing Pitt 30-7. They've moved the ball to their own 47 yard line and faced a fourth and one. Needing three scores (and two 2-point conversions) to tie, the chance of winning was maybe 0.5%, but it was still better than 0%.
Shafer elected to punt.
You gain nothing from punting in that situation. Even if you pin them deep and flip the field position, you're not getting three more possessions. Hell Pitt could have even taken a safety if they wanted to, after running a few minutes off the clock, and still known they couldn't give up 21 more points in the time left.
Shafer gave up on the team. Plain and simple. It's embarrassing, especially from a coach who preaches hard-nosed football.
I'm not saying Shafer is the next Robinson (I think). But how do you motivate guys to play through the final second, if you won't coach through the final second? How do you tell them they can overcome anything, when you give up on them when the odds are stacked against them?
Scott Shafer has no credibility for me right now. He can talk about how tough Syracuse is going to be. How they're going to lock the gate and beat the hell out of teams, but his actions never seem to match his words.
He's a coach who gives up when times are tough. That is the exact opposite of hard-nosed.