If that isn’t bad enough, Syracuse is projected to win just three of their remaining nine games according to SB Nation’s Bill Connelly. ESPN’s FPI gives an even more somber outlook for the Orange, predicting them to win only one more game this season – Saturday’s matchup against UConn.
With the present looking bleak, it’s time to take a look at the future. Since he arrived on campus, Syracuse coach Dino Babers has continuously preached for fans to be patient and have faith in his plan – a stance he has only reaffirmed in recent weeks.
While speaking with the media on Monday, Babers said his team is only in the “beginning stages” of transitioning to his system and where he wants the team to be.
With that being said, we asked the TNIAAM staff how long they think it will be until Syracuse gets close to Babers’ “end stages” and becomes an 8-win team and eventually a potential contender.
Here’s what they had to say.
Looking at the roster and the 2017 schedule, I think 2018 would be the earliest Syracuse could see an 8 win season. It's possible that the Orange could be led by a Senior Eric Dungey in that season and as we've seen at Syracuse and elsewhere in college football, an experienced QB can make a big difference. I think an offense that is hitting close to what Babers has done in the past along with the right scheduling for the remaining two OOC games (at ND, and home for UConn are the two scheduled currently) could propel Syracuse to that 8 win threshold in year 3.
The timetable for Babers is tricky, because as we've seen, the transition is pretty large scale on both sides of the ball. Much was made of the offense when Babers came in; we probably underestimated what an adjustment the defense would be, in part because it was so bad last year. We're also likely to see a migration from the team this off-season. Aside from the initial hire and post-spring, after year one is when you see a lot of guys transfer, as they learn how they fit within the new system.
With all that being said, I'll remain optimistic and say year three is when we'll be an eight-ish win program. Next year is when Babers says the offense will get going. I hope by 2018, the defense is hitting its stride as an opportunistic unit that can mitigate damage deep and get the ball back to the offense. Dungey will be a senior, and probably one set to put up some crazy 4,500 yard, 40 total touchdown year. Forecasting based on the schedule is difficult because we only know about games at Notre Dame and vs. UConn, though you can probably pencil in an FCS team in there, and its unlikely the fourth game is a huge opponent at this point. Hopefully that sets up for a 3-1 non-conference record (assuming we don't move to the 9 ACC games or 8+2 model), and SU is in a position to take a leap and steal a game or two that it just doesn't win now.
The Invisible Swordsman
Not including this season, three years (2019). It is widely known that the offensive and defensive system that Coach Babers has in place for Syracuse is being executed largely by players that are not optimally suited for it. This is particularly true for our defense who currently lacks the combination of size and speed required for the Tampa 2.
What we've seen from the last two games may suggest that we are light years away from being an effective defense, but I don't believe that has to be the case. We don't have to be the '85 Bears to win football games, and Babers tenure at Bowling Green indicated that an average defense could provide just enough stops to allow his high-powered offense to run away with victories against good opposition. We can promise star athletes playing time right now, so if we can bring in some upgraded talent over the next two recruiting cycles, we should be in position to be in that 8-win category.
Including this season, I think we're three years out from even sniffing eight wins, and as far as an "eight-plus win contender?" It really depends on how long Babers is here and if he leaves, who succeeds him. Syracuse is in step one of a process. Maybe we told ourselves we'd get further than this in year one. Maybe we told ourselves the previous regime didn't sink us as far as it did. But looking at the rest of the conference, our upcoming schedules and how SU still has a lot to work out, I'll say three years until we're in range of that. And that's completely fine by me.
We already know the answer to the question. Doug Marrone came into Syracuse with a program that was in far worse shape than how Dino Babers found it and got them to eight wins by the second season. Now, that includes a bowl victory and it didn't quite make them a "contender," but it shows how quickly you can get things back on track. And if Dino can implement his system and get more talent to fill the roles, there's no reason to think he can't at least get back to a bowl game next season (brutal schedule notwithstanding) and then turn SU into a perennially-solid program by Year 3. Maybe that seems crazy as we're sitting here giving up 50-60 points right now, but that's how quickly things change in college football.
While 2018 (year three under Babers) is definitely within reach, I would say 2019 is a much more reasonable prediction for Syracuse to crack the 8-win threshold. What many college football fans don’t realize is change and progression takes time. Babers said this would be the “toughest transition” he has ever had to make. The offensive and defensive schemes Babers runs are completely different from the previous regimes of Scott Shafer and Doug Marrone. Not only does Babers need to get his players up to speed with his coaching schemes, but he also needs time to recruit and develop specific players he feels would bet fit into that scheme.
This current Syracuse roster, and the majority of next year’s roster as well, wasn’t modeled for Babers, but rather for Shafer. However, in three-to-four years from now, Babers will have had time to not only recruit specific players he wants for his system, but develop them as well. Furthermore, with the type of excitement Babers’ offense brings, recruiting skill position players will most likely be easier than in years past, as many players would love to play in the type of offense Babers runs – just ask Amba Etta-Tawo, who said he didn’t even need a sales pitch before he made the decision to transfer to Syracuse.
The present may be grim, but the future is bright Syracuse fans.
How long do you think it will be until Syracuse reaches eight wins and becomes a potential contender? Leave a comment below.