It’s extremely self-indulgent of me to reference an anecdote I wrote in the past as if it’s some kind of standard-bearing notion but I am an extremely self-indulgent person so here we are.
Last year, when Scott Shafer went on his infamous “3-0! 24 year! 3-0! 24 years!” rant, I said that Scott needed to get out of the car. Here’s the gist:
...have you ever been in your car and you've got the music up really loud and you're singing along and everything sounds great? Then, you get out of your car. Maybe you stop at the store to buy food or you run into your house to grab something you forgot. You get back in the car, turn the keys and OH MY GOD the music is so loud! Your ears are bleeding! How is that possible? It sounded normal just a minute ago.
When you were in the car with the noise and the music, that became your normal. It only stopped being normal when you got out and got back in and realized how loud it actually was. And that's what happens to people in Hollywood. They're surrounded by others telling them how great they are. They're sheltered in this bubble where news and messages are filtered for them. They only see the world through the lens they've put themselves behind.
I bring this back up because the first cracks in Dino Babers’ facade appeared on Saturday during the post-game presser following a 50-33 loss to Notre Dame. Babers came in feisty with each question he was lobbed by media members. It’s one thing if the questions were themselves combative but they weren’t. Still , Babers seemed to be doing that same thing Scott Shafer did last season where he’d come into each press conference assuming the reporters was “out to get him.”
When asked about why he didn’t go for it on fourth down in situations he had in the past, Babers made a dig at reporters for saying he was “too aggressive” and now changing tactics. Except...no they didn’t. No one has called Babers’ go-for-it mentality too aggressive. If anything, people have been universally positive about it. And the question asked wasn’t calling him conservative, he seemed to have simply decided there was meaning behind it.
Babers then took offense with some of the choices of wording and other ticky-tack things that reporters mentioned. All in all, it was clear that Babers seemed to be dealing with some kind of internal crisis about the state of the program and was assigning that to those asking questions about it.
Which, is understandable. You’re a head coach in a results-driven industry and no one is going to be happy about watching their team give up 50+ points in high-profile games. But like so many things in sports, it feels like maybe Dino is listening too much to the angry minority who just want to watch the world burn instead of rolling with the punches and reminding the rest of us that this is a work in progress with a plan.
Monday, Babers seemed to have collected himself and is back to his playful talking points.
Dino Babers at his presser (not on a cooking show) "You guys will like the cake we're baking. Now is not the time to eat the batter."— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) October 3, 2016
That’s the Dino Babers we like. A guy who is confident in his plan in spite of the current results. The guy who keeps reminding us to have faith and that all of this will be worth it in the end, when we’re the team dropping 50 on opponents who can’t keep up.
I just hope he remembers that most Syracuse fans are behind him in this. We want him to succeed. And the local reporters aren’t questioning his tactics because they hate him. They’re questioning his tactics because that’s their job. When you say you’re going to be aggressive and then you punt in the middle of the fourth quarter down by two scores, you need to explain yourself. It’s not attacking, it’s just part of the deal.
We gave you the keys because we want you driving this car. Just get out every once in a while to remind yourself of that.