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Slack-ing Off With Sean & John: Syracuse Football Coaching Search Edition


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Every day, the TNIAAM staff uses real-time messaging service Slack to make up for their lack of geographic proximity. This can result in conversations that have a lot to do with Syracuse... or little to do with Syracuse. Our not-even-close-to-regular feature, Slack-ing off, captures those conversations so you can relive every moment. All time stamps on Pacific Time, despite not matter at all here.

Sean Keeley (11:24 a.m.)

So there's a lot of sturm und drang around Scott Shafer's firing and most of the people upset seems to only want to talk about what happened on the field and how that wasn't a good enough reason. Putting personal feelings aside, why do you think Coyle had to start fresh right now instead of giving Shafer one more year?

John Cassillo (11:28 a.m.)

You and I have gone over this before: No one wants their job success to be dictated by factors they inherited. And after a second straight disastrous season -- whether strictly Shafer's fault or not -- Coyle saw this as the moment when he had to start shaping his legacy at Syracuse University. I don't blame him for that part of it. I'd also counter to those still annoyed Shafer was fired: What was the standard for success next year? If we missed a bowl again, was he getting dismissed THEN?

smkeeley (11:38 a.m.): Personally I think there were a lot of off-field factors at play here as well. Coyle's number one job and his entire employment rests on making Syracuse Football successful on the field and financially-viable so that it drives the rest of the athletic department. Attendance being what it is and knowing next season would be a repeat of that for sure, that has to have been a factor. ​

Also, look at the state of college football. 5-7 bowl teams are going to become commonplace now and mid-season firings are the new normal. So even if Shafer comes back, if SU opens the year lackluster, he'd probably have been fired by Week 7 anyway. It's not fair. It's not nice but this is and always has been a business.

So it would be silly to deny the rumors that Scott Frost is apparently the hot prospect for Coyle & SU. Initial thoughts?

johncassillo (11:46 a.m.): I did write up the coaching profile on him earlier, and after doing the research on the piece, I'm not necessarily more or less sold than I was before. He's the odds-on favorite for the job because of his potential upside, history interviewing with Coyle (the Boise State job), and the fact that he's probably within our budget to hire. I don't know how much Syracuse has to offer, but $2.5M is probably the ceiling, meaning they may fall short of the $3M or so needed for some bigger or more experienced names. I'd like a more experienced coach like Dino Babers, who runs a similar offense, sure. But Frost may be a little more realistic with the number of larger programs looking to make similar hires. How about you?

smkeeley (11:50 a.m.): Yeah I think that he offers an upside that should please most SU fans. He's got a great pedigree. He's Chip Kelly-adjacent. He knows what's it like to recruit for a big time program. He's not going to cost us exorbitant amounts of money. That said, it's also another roll of the dice with an unproven head coach. I do like the idea of getting a guy who has actual head coach experience. Sure, we've seen that newbies can win early but there always seems to be a learning curve when it comes to big decisions, play calling, time management, etc. I guess you roll the dice no matter what. But if we're taking a chance, I'll take a chance with Frost. I am starting to wonder if he's realizing he shouldn't just take our offer because we're the first one to come at him strong. ​

So let's say the floor drops out from under us and Frost, Babers, Sanford and all of the usual suspects are off the table. What do we do?

johncassillo (11:55 a.m.): The next logical decision: REALLY roll the dice? In that case, you'll see Joe Moglia jump to the top of the list. Maybe he's on your "usual suspects" list in your mind, and he may be on Coyle's too. But it's likely he's not the first phone call. And as others have brought up, he's a unique case that might be just crazy enough to work at Syracuse and not a whole lot of other schools. I don't think he's high on the list of many other programs, though one he COULD be in contention for is Rutgers, for the same reasons he is for the Orange. New York guy. Brings money. Is uniquely positioned to turn the college football model on its head at a program that will let him. I know people are scared of that fact, and I may be too. Are you?

smkeeley (12:01 p.m.): There's something about Moglia I find fascinating. He feels very similar to Mike Leach in that he's either going to ruin your program or take it to huge levels of success and there's little in-between. I was pretty sure Leach was going to do the former with WSU and all of a sudden he's got them going in the right direction. I don't know anything about Moglia other than his story and his W-L record but I'm intrigued and whether or not we have to dig deeper than that I guess we'll see when we get there. ​

Regardless of who does become coach, the players still gotta play. What's the unit you're most concerned about headed into 2016 right now? And which one do you have the most faith in?

johncassillo (12:04 p.m.): More concerned with the defense than the offense, because we don't know what's coming -- players-wise or coaches-wise. At this point, everyone on the roster was recruited for Shafer's defense, and a departure from that model could find us short on things we need. Of course, those "things we need" were not really successful this past season, so perhaps the young group of defenders can adjust. Coaching change will also cause some fallout with defections, and I see our pre-existing depth issues possibly getting worse. So yeah, the defense terrifies me this year. ​

I have much more faith in the offense under any coach, if only because it showed that it has talent this season -- and really just needs the consistency of execution (this is not a unique situation). Whoever walks in to take over this group has a lot to work with, however, and to me, that means less of a ramp to something viable on the offensive side of the ball. That's our big draw for any incoming staff, in my opinion: Eric Dungey, Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips (among others) all a year older and maybe better, and all ready to fit into the right offensive attack.

smkeeley (1:48 p.m.): Yeah I agree that, assuming he's healthy and comes back, Eric Dungey will return with a solid core of weapons around him in the backfield. The one big concern is QB depth if Austin Wilson transfers and one or both of the recruit don't come. Also, if Zack Mahoney wasn't given a scholarship (which would suck), he might get pushed out by the new coach as well (to make space for a QB he wants). The big concern has to be the defensive line, which loses a lot of good players. Plus we should assume Ron Thompson is gone even though we have no word on that yet. And of course, you're not paying attention if you're not concerned about the secondary at all times.