Dino Babers was introduced as the 30th head coach of the Syracuse Orange football program on Monday. SU Athletic Director Mark Coyle introduced the former Bowling Green Falcons coach and Babers spoke at length about what he thinks of the opportunity he's got here in New York.
Here's some initial thoughts...
The Reset Button
One press conference in and I think Babers brings a refreshing reset to the relationship between the Syracuse football staff, the media and the fans. Scott Shafer started out his tenure with a balance but by the time Year 3 came around, he was very clearly in "Us. vs. Them" mode when it came to the local media and anyone who voiced dissent about the state of the program. Babers brings a much more playful mentality to the proceedings. He asked everyone in the room to close their eyes and had fun waiting for those unwilling to do it. He wasn't afraid to crack jokes, point out his own gaffes and generally have fun with the situation. It was refreshing.
"Why Not Syracuse? You Tell Me Why Not."
It's not "hard-nosed" but it's probably the closest we got to a catchphrase out of the presser. Dino used this question to launch into the reasons he took the job and why he's so excited for the opportunity.
He Gets It, Fans
The fanbase split this season over whether or not they needed to support the program no matter what or if it was fair to stay home rather than go see another losing football season. When first discussing the fanbase, Babers had an interesting moment. He paused, as if he was trying to find the right way to say something. And when he did, he said, "The fan support...we need to give them what they deserve." It's such a smart way to go about it. Yes, the fans and the team form a symbiotic relationship but the fans need to feel like the football program is thinking about how to make their season ticket purchases and merchandise purchases worthwhile. That's the right mentality to bring with you as coach.
"This is not a destination job....I mean, this IS a destination job for me, this can be a destination job for me...sorry, little nervous, little nervous."
He's Probably Already Seen The Express
"I'm a movie buff. If I'm not doing football, that's what I do. I watch good movies. I watch bad movies...one of the movies that always grabbed me was Apollo 13. You know, when the carbon monoxide was going up and all they had was this box of stuff. And they came in and they threw that box on the table and they said, 'What is that stuff?' And they said "Well that's what they got up there and we've got to figure out a way to get that carbon monoxide down." Well I take great pride to coming in to a football team and looking at the stuff and finding out a way to make it successful. I really take a lot of pride on that and I don't see any reason why it should be any different to any other place I've been to."
He's Getting The Bowling Green Band Back Together
He's already got a good idea of what his staff will look like. Babers basically admitted that he's bringing DC Brian Ward ("I have a defensive coordinator. Hopefully I can keep him.) over from Bowling Green and also said jokingly that he'd "like to bring all the good ones" when asked who else from his staff would come over.
He's Ready To Handle The Tough Questions
After some questions about orange juice and staffing, Bud Poliquin brought the thunder and basically asked what Babers sees in a program that some might consider hopeless. What is he seeing that those down on the program might not see. Dino didn't miss a beat and launched right into a discussion about the "gift" that is Syracuse University with the Carrier Dome and how it's not all that dissimilar to the situation at Baylor.
Syracuse Is Going To Be The Best Football Team That Ever Lived
"Visualize this...you're in the Carrier Dome...the house is filled...the feeling is electric...the noise is deafening....you have a defense that is relentless...you have a special teams that has been well-coached, you have an offense that will not huddle...and you have a game that's faster than you've ever seen on turf. Open your eyes...that's gonna be a reality. That's gonna be Syracuse Football."