clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Guide To Coach Mac For Syracuse Football Fans Born in the 90's

If you're too young to know who Dick MacPherson is, we're here to help.

Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange football program will honor Richard F. "Dick" MacPherson on Saturday during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Carrier Dome. We here at TNIAAM recognize that not you can't take for granted that every Orange fan knows all that much about Coach Mac. So, we thought we'd provide some handy answers that the children of the 90's (and 00's) might have about this SU Football legend.

So who is Coach Mac?

Coach Mac is Dick MacPherson. He coached Syracuse Football from 1981 to 1990.

I thought he was the quarterback.

You're thinking of Don McPherson.

He was the coach and the quarterback?

No, they were two different people. I promise you. If you see them standing next to one another, it's easy to tell them apart.

I take it Coach Mac was good?

You take it correctly. When MacPherson took over Syracuse Football, it was in a pretty bad state. That National Championship was way back in the rearview mirror and the glory days of Ben Schwartzwalder were done. SU was mired in a state of mediocrity, vacillating between barely being good (6-5) and being terrible (3-8). Sound familiar? Enter Mac, who set about rebuilding the program from the ground up. By the time he was done he had led SU to an 11-0-1 season and turned them into a regular for quality bowl game appearances. Whatever success followed in the 90's on through the Marrone years was built on the foundation that Mac cemented.

Do other people think he was good?

He won six Coach of the Year awards in 1987 and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. So, yeah.

What else has he done for the university?

You're tough to please, aren't you? Well, he's been a mainstay in the SU Football scene for years, doing color commentary on the radio and appearing on any number of local programs. Also, his progeny has contributed to the continued success of the program. Grandson Macky MacPherson developed into a solid center and grandson Cam MacPherson is now a tight end with SU (Hear Cam's thoughts on his grandpa here).

You mentioned that he went 11-0-1 one year. How?

Believe it or not, they used to be totally cool with ties in college football games. I know, it sounds insane now. It kinda was then, too. SU went 11-0 in the regular season (we also used to only play eleven games, not twelve) in 1987. The final game of the regular season was a classic and Coach Mac proved his worth by going for the win on a two-point conversion instead of settling for a tie. The team earned a berth to the Sugar Bowl where they took on the Auburn Tigers. This time, it was up to the opposing coach, Pat Dye, to decide whether or not to go for two and the win or settle for an extra point and a tie the win by driving the length of the field for a TD or TYE-ing it with a field goal.

Unlike Coach Mac, Pat Dye is a chickenshit coward and, well, that's how you get to 11-0-1.

Would Syracuse have won the National Title if they had won the game?

Almost certainly not. If you think the system is unfair now, this was back when the system was entirely dependent on college football writers, bastions of fairness and equality that they are. SU would have finished No. 2 at best. Still, it's a huge accomplishment to have gone unbeaten.

Did he own awesome sweaters?


Does anyone have anything bad to say about him?

Literally no one. Anyone who has a Coach Mac story to tell you is going to tell you about what a nice guy he is, how he goes out of his way to engage with people and how big his heart is. Seriously, try it.

I have a random question but I worry it makes me sound like a bigot.

Okay, well, we already assume that so go for it.

Well, what's Coach Mac's stance on Methodists?

Oh, he hates them.