When Wednesday’s SportsCenter segment on Syracuse Orange football began, I got flashbacks to one of the last times ESPN spent some time putting together a piece on us. You may remember it or you may be trying to forget.
This one played out a whole lot better...
Head coach Dino Babers got a sitdown interview during The Worldwide Leader’s flagship show and he did the program proud. Like I said, the guy knew what he was doing and couple his great speech with the John Wildhack connection and these are the kinds of things that can happen.
"The thing that I saw was just so much pure emotion and so much pure joy. The excitement in their eyes the accomplishment in their eyes and the belief. When those eyes are looking back at me, it just got me fired up."
Even though the speech might as well have been a recruiting pitch as it was happening, Babers remains humble about the effect it’s had.
"I'm a little embarrassed at how this thing has taken off a bit. But for the young men, for the university, for the community and for everyone else out there that has never been in a winning locker room in college football, I'd imagine that's what it looks like."
Babers noted that he didn’t script the speech and never does. Ultimately, he just used what he was feeling in the moment and what he’s trying to do as a head coach.
"I try to give them the truth, something that will stick with them. On the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, maybe even something that will stick with them for life. Something that in that moment, it's a precious moment. That they won't forget that time. I want to tag something to it that they will always be able to draw from that will give the opportunity to be better fathers, better sons, better husbands."
As for what the win means for Syracuse and for Babers in his first year, he spoke about how important it was.
"It's a staple win, there's no doubt about it. It's really important when you are taking over a new program and you are changing the way they do things. You are changing the way they dress. You are changing the way the play offense and defense. You are changing the responsibilities of going to the classroom and responsibilities on and off the football field. You need something that really bring everyone together so they say 'you know what, this guy knows what he is doing let's follow him. And I think if, excuse me, when this program turns around, a lot of people will point back to that night over Virginia Tech that night at the Dome."
As for where the SU teams goes from here, Babers is trying to keep them focused on the task at hand, for his own sake.
“Anytime that you base your livlihood on what 18 and 22 year olds do during a three-to-four hour period, it can be difficult. Obviously, they’re extremely high. They’ve been complimented the entire week. And that’s okay, they accomplished something that was outstanding. But we’ve got to bring’m back down to Earth a little bit and we’ve gotta get them ready to play a very fine Boston College opponent on their Homecoming game with the winner of the game probably in a very good situation to have an opportunity to go bowling. Both teams are hungry. Both teams want it. And they’re a fine opponent.
I talked to them about being consistently good, not occassionaly great. Someone that we can wind their clock by.”