The Syracuse Orange have a brand new football coach in Dino Babers. Like you, we're pretty excited about it, so we managed to get some time with Coach Babers to ask him all about the new gig, his system, his background and of course, movies.
He also made fun of me for being cold out here in 60-degree weather, which he has every right to (as do you).
TNIAAM: First off: Congrats, and welcome to Syracuse. What’s been your favorite part of becoming SU’s new head coach so far?
Dino Babers: The most fun thing is getting to know all the guys, the people in the athletic department and shaking hands with all the students.
Have you been to Dinosaur Bar-b-que yet, and have they mentioned an endorsement deal since your name is similar to theirs?
No one’s taken me to Dinosaur yet. Been eating at the (football) complex and the hotel every day since I arrived.
(Ed. Note: Someone take Coach out to eat! He can't survive on Sheraton room service alone!)
How quick was the process to come aboard at Syracuse? What sold you on it?
What sold me was the tradition. The university itself. Great, private school education. The Carrier Dome. The athletic director. The Chancellor -- There are good people here.
You’ve obviously been at a lot of different schools. Does moving get easier for you and your family over time?
My dad was in the military so when I was younger, we moved around a lot. And we always made sure we had good boxes around. Whenever someone came across a good box, we'd throw it in the back of truck. My wife and girls are used to it, and good sports about it.
What are the advantages of coming into a new head coaching job with a full staff already, versus taking a job as a coordinator and building from scratch?
The big thing is familiarity with the core people that are going to come with you. The first time you're a head coach, you find out who your friends are. You rely on recommendations, word of mouth. You get a little uneasy about how it’s going to work out the first time. Once you have success and move on to a new opportunity, you want to reward those people too. "Dance with the girl that brought you," you know? If they did a good job before, why wouldn't they again?
Looking at film from Friday’s MAC Championship Game, it seems like Syracuse’s current roster has a lot of players who could be plugged into similar roles as players in Bowling Green’s offense. Are there any Orange players you’ve already started planning things for?
Not at all.
Speaking of your offense: What will it take for the Orange to be successful running it in year one? Are there more mental boundaries or more physical ones to adopting your type of spread offense if you haven’t run it before?
Both. You need quality football players. You need a degree of competency. A degree of understanding your work and role on the team. Just saying we’ll be good because of a scheme is unfair to folks who have God-given talent.
SU’s defense has been pretty blitz-heavy the past seven years. Will that continue? What is SU’s defense going to look like next season?
Mentality has to fit the scheme – spacial players; guys who can make things in space. Good defense is about toughness and physicality. Object’s to pound the ball. If you squeeze and pound the opposition enough as a defense, the ball will pop out. That’s a turnover. Over the past two years, we got a lot of turnovers -- we were very high in positive category in terms of generating them, and didn't give it away much.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of playing in the ACC, vs. the MAC)?
Biggest challenge is faith in system.
If you had to use one movie to tell your life’s story, which would it be?
Only one? How long do you have? This might define me. I don't know if I have the depth for that.
Okay, if you could lean on one movie in your first year on the job at Syracuse, which would it be?
Heartbreak Ridge – Clint Eastwood. Google it.
(Quick aside: Heartbreak Ridge was a 1986 Clint Eastwood film about the American Invasion of Grenada by the U.S. Marines. The movie takes its name from the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. It was before my time -- born in 1988 -- but that's not necessarily an excuse for not knowing anything about the film at all. If you want to get more info on it yourself, here's a spoiler-filled Wikipedia page)
Obviously without naming names, how has your staff been able to hit the ground running so quickly with recruiting?
The staff understands how to work with each other and understands the system. They know what we’re looking for. They're all hard workers. They know what we’re looking for to bring Syracuse football success.
Some great insights from Coach Babers above, and he even provides us with a movie recommendation.
Thanks again to Coach for taking the time out today to chat, and looking forward to an eventful (in a positive way) offseason.