"I think we lost our composure and that starts with me."
Scott Shafer was discussing the multiple penalties and ejections that occurred late in the Syracuse Orange's 42-29 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack at his post-game presser. A couple minutes later, Shafer would become visibly-agitated with a reporter's question about whether or not he has discussed the recent spat of unsportsmanlike penalties with Syracuse AD Mark Coyle.
"No, hell no. We're fightin'. I told you, Stephen, I made a mistake. I'm embarrassed by it. I'm not sure..." He trailed off and laughed passive-aggresively while looking off to the side. "Nice question, once again." Then, as he walked away from the podium, he added, "Good job, Stephen. Helluva job." According to the Daily Orange, Shafer then walked over to his family, including son Wolfgang, who "glared at the same reporter and said a few more words under his breath."
By all accounts, Scott Shafer has the right to be frustrated. Following a 3-0 start (their first in 24 years), his Orange squad has rattled off eight-straight losses. He will have now overseen consecutive losing seasons and might possibly oversee consecutive 3-9 results. Not exactly the kind of position a college head coach wants to find themselves in headed into the final year of their contract.
The saving grace for Shafer this whole time has been the perception that he runs a good program and that his team plays a "hard-nosed" style of football personified not only by toughness but the pride it carries itself with. Those ideals have taken a big hit in recent weeks with news that two players have been indefinitely-suspended on drug policy violations and with Shafer and multiple SU players taking unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the last two games.
Couple all of that with red-hot speculation about his job security and questions about the way he handled Eric Dungey's
concussion Upper Body Injury issues and you've got a recipe for complete and total frustration.
You just can't do things like this. Not now. You can't scowl at a reporter and then create a situation where a family member does the same. You just can't. Not on this level and with so much at stake.
Right now there are a lot of Orange fans (and perhaps SU folks) looking for reasons to pull the trigger on Shafer and little moments like this are what end up tipping the scales. Shafe clearly came into this season with a chip on his shoulder about the way the media covers him and the team but you simply have to be the adult here. You don't have a choice.
It's funny how the things that people love about a coach when the team is winning are the same things people dislike about the coach when the team is losing. Happens every time. Of course the reality is that no one really cares what a coach is like so long as they're winning, be they fiery, quiet, a taskmaster or a player's coach. Just look at Les Miles right now.
However, Shafer doesn't have what Miles has. A glorious win-loss record and multiple trophies to back up his actions. All Scott has is his actions (Texas Bowl trophy notwithstanding). And in back-to-back weeks, Shafer's negative actions have been noticed.
I don't know what Mark Coyle is thinking. No one seems to and that's by design. Coyle might have already decided to give Shafer another year or he might have already decided to cut ties and start fresh. Until we know for sure, all we can go off of are the results on the field and the coach's actions surrounding them.
Right now, neither look very promising.