It's official: the Syracuse Orange have named Dino Babers as its new head football coach. We've talked a lot about what we think we know about the Orange's new head man, but to get even more details, we went and asked a Bowling Green fan to spill the beans.
Matt Daley, of SB Nation's MAC blog Hustle Belt, happens to root for the Falcons and covers the team over there. So we tossed a bunch of questions over and he was nice enough to oblige below. Please thank him in the comments or on Twitter.
First off: Congratulations on Friday night's MAC title. Obviously you guys are sort of used to that level of achievement, but had to be nice to win like that in Dino Babers' last game on the sidelines.
For us, it was very similar to 2013. That year, we also went 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the MAC. When we went to the championship game, most of us had a good idea that Dave Clawson had one foot out the door, and he left for Wake Forest very quickly after winning that game. With Babers, we knew when he came to BGSU that he was older and had been at EIU only two years, so the likelihood of him being successful and staying with us was small at best. It's disappointing, but this is life for teams in the MAC. Babers gave us everything he could in two years, so we'll take the title and move on.
Babers is clearly focused on offense. What are some things you can tell Syracuse fans about his attack that we should be looking out for? Anything negative, or is it really just a lot of fun, and scoring, and yards and points?
The first thing is that Syracuse fans need to be patient in the first year, because there will be hiccups. Babers is very open with the fact that his system can't be fully implemented, in the way he wants in run, until the second year, and I think that's true on both sides of the ball. If you look at his teams' numbers at EIU and BGSU, they are much, much better in Year Two.
The second thing is that he wants his offense to run plays as quickly as possible. His offense is essentially a copy of what Art Briles has at Baylor, and at its fastest, plays can be run every 10-15 seconds.
A possible misconception is that this is a pass-heavy offense. While Babers' teams do pass a lot (both Garropolo and Johnson were national passing leaders in year two), they also run the ball very well. Travis Greene has 1,200 yards this year so far, and the team has averaged almost 200 rushing yards per game.
Overall, though, it is a lot of fun, a lot of yards and a lot of points. And remember -- what he did at BGSU, he did with an altered offense because of the weather. At Syracuse, in the dome, he can run it entirely his way.
Defensively, do you feel like the team plays at the same high level of the offense, or have the Falcons put that side of the ball on the back burner under Babers?
I wouldn't say that side of the ball is put on the back burner, but it's a different style of defense. His defense will give up its share of yards and points, but it seeks to create havoc. BGSU's defense this year forced 27 turnovers in 13 games and led the MAC in turnover differential. They were also good at getting sacks.
Babers' teams will normally score early, so if his defense can get a couple of stops or turnovers and help the team get a 2-3 score lead, that's usually the game. This year, BGSU lost just once when leading after the 1st quarter, and that was against Paxton Lynch (Memphis). The system works.
What's Babers's interaction with fans looked like? He seems like a good guy from interviews.
Babers has always come off as a very personable coach. I think he interacts well both with fans and the media. Personally, I had the chance to interview him a few months after he took the job at BGSU, and he ended up giving me an hour. How many coaches would do that? He should absolutely be a positive influence for the Syracuse campus and community.
Since Syracuse plays indoors, do you think that'll elevate what Bowling Green's offense did well? Or will things largely remain the same?
As I noted previously, Babers had to change his offense some to account for the cold and wind that Bowling Green is famous for over the last half of the season. His ability to play half of his games in a dome should allow him to use the pure form of the offense that Briles uses at Baylor, which means that it should be even better.
What's a fun fact about him that those outside of the Falcons fan base might not know?
A: Babers is a huge movie buff. It doesn't really matter what movie it is, either. It's a way for him to unwind and decompress, to get away from the coaching grind.
What coaches would you expect to join Babers at Syracuse? Any? Most? Any thoughts on who takes over the Bowling Green job?
I would expect most of Babers' coaching staff to go to Syracuse with him, particularly his assistants on offense. Sean Lewis (QB coach), Kim McCloud (WR coach/asst. HC) and Mike Lynch (OL/RB coach) are all very good at what they do. On the other side, Brian Ward came to BGSU from Western Illinois this year to be defensive coordinator, so I'm not sure if he would follow Babers or not.
Regarding Bowling Green's next coach, that is a very interesting question. Secondary coach Nick Monroe is in his 6th season with the Falcons, and he should get a look. BGSU should also take a look at Kendal Briles of Baylor, who is Art Briles' son and their offensive coordinator. More likely, though, they'll try to find an established FCS coach, as they did with Clawson and Babers.
While you guys don't follow Syracuse as closely as we do, what do you expect for the Orange with Babers at the helm?
I know it's been a long time since Syracuse has won very much, but Babers has proven to be a very successful coach at all of his stops. His system is very attractive to young players, too. He should be able to recruit very well against the other teams in the ACC.
The first year will feature some growing pains, but it will be very surprising if Babers does not have the Orange completely turned around in 2-3 years.
As an aside, I'd like to add that it will be awfully fun for us here in Bowling Green to watch Babers and Clawson face each other every year. Two former MAC champion BGSU coaches in the same ACC division at Syracuse and Wake? Awesome.
Thanks for taking the time out to answer these, Matt! Best of luck to Bowling Green in its upcoming bowl game and the coaching search this offseason.