Whatever you think of the results on the field so far, there’s no denying that Dino Babers brings a refreshing change the role of the Syracuse Football head coach: Realism.
Greg Robinson was the living embodiment of the This Is Fine meme, always following up losses by saying they were about to turn it around. Just you wait. And so we kept waiting. Hell, the guy was still talking about how good things were in spite of the evidence years later.
Doug Marrone wasn’t quite the eternal optimist but he was a pretty good coach-speaker. He kept things close to the chest, reminded us “it starts with me” when things went bad, and just tried to muscle through.
Scott Shafer followed the Marrone mold but even upped the ante in his final season, daring those in the media to find fault in the team’s good start against bad opponents before the whole thing came crashing down. He tried to get everyone to “look over here” while he attempted the magic trick in vain. It didn’t work.
Now we have Dino Babers. He’s savvy, for sure. He understands how to play the game, and I mean that on the football field and with the media. However, he also brings a very casual realism to everything so fresh it almost seems like he’s doing something wrong.
As Bud Poliquin points out, Babers combines a confidence in his plan with a realistic approach to rebuilding to create something that sounds like an actual human being.
"I think our record is kind of what a lot of people thought our record would be," Babers announced the other day of SU's .400 batting average going into Saturday's affair at Wake Forest. "We thought we'd be a little bit better than that, but I think we're right on pace."
He’s a head coach admitting that a lot of people probably figured they’d be 2-3 right now, hoping that we’d done better, but also understanding that it was a reasonable outcome. He’s totally on board with the fact that we’re 2-3. He’s not trying to rah-rah anyone or talk in cliches about how “we’re 0-0 right now” or whatever.
Dude said it’s a long-term plan that requires faith and that’s all there is to it. He’s not changing that for anyone.
"There are going to be glimpses (during the 2016 campaign) of looking extremely good and there are going to be glimpses of it looking extremely bad. And the ones who have faith will stay on board the ship. The ones who don't have faith will jump and try to swim for shore … even though shore is way, way, way over there. If you stay on board the ship with the family, everything else will work out. It all gets better and better and better. And it happens right in front of the fans' eyes."
This isn’t “you’re with us or you’re against us.” It’s “hey, it’s gonna be a rough ride for a while but if you stick with us it’ll be worth it.” He also knows that those who jump ship will be back anyway once the team turns it around, so whatever.
It’s a simple thing. Ultimately, Babers does have to win football games and that’s what matters. But in the meantime, I’m just enjoying hearing from a head coach with one foot in reality who isn’t afraid to reference it. It’s like the character in the movie breaking the fourth wall to remind you this is a movie. That doesn’t always work, but for now, it does.