“I want them to be consistently good, not occasionally great. Somebody we can wind our clock by. Day-in and day-out, we know exactly what they’re going to give us. That’s what we’re looking for."
Now 20 games into the Babers regime, it seems we’re seeing him deliver (and then some) on that goal.
Last year, when we upset the Virginia Tech Hokies, that was occasionally great. Syracuse was beaten soundly in quite a few games, and we never really matched the effort put forth in that win. Being a team that can jump up and bite a team every so often is not a bad thing, but it’s also not a sustainable strategy. The next step -- one even Doug Marrone never really got to — was being able to test every opponent, no matter how talented.
This year, even if we’re “only” 4-4, it’s undeniable that the Orange are already consistently good. The team’s four losses have all been by single digits. Only one of those was to a lesser opponent (Middle Tennessee), and even that game had some extra factors attached.
The turnaround is even starting to erode away the long-standing belief that this program was bound to lose.
For the first time in longer than I can remember, I believe in SU football. Like, we can win every game believe.— Invisible Swordsman (@NunesSwordsman) October 21, 2017
The fear is gone.
Even I, a fatalist when it comes to SU football at times, can admit the same. The fear’s gone. I fully expect Syracuse to be in every single game they play — and through eight games in 2017, that’s actually been the case.
How many programs can say the same right now? It’s a pretty short list, really.
This is not trying to put a positive spin on a loss. It’s putting a positive spin on a season that’s been overwhelmingly positive. Babers came in with big plans and a way to get there. He inherited an Orange football program not at all suited for what he needed, and yet he’s already met the initial bar: consistently good. Against a lesser schedule, that equals five or six wins (at least) at this juncture.
But against a tougher schedule, we’ve probably received even more of the proof he also said he’d deliver on. (no I’m not endorsing tougher schedules)
Syracuse is on the precipice of becoming something that matters to college football on a week-to-week basis. Not just every so often when there’s an “upset alert” on ESPN for being within seven of a top team in the third quarter. And not when the Orange jump up and randomly beat a ranked opponent.
Under Dino Babers, the Syracuse Orange are taking form as an honest-to-goodness football program. One with an identity, support, belief and a reputation that scares the hell out of every team on the schedule. We’re not at the end of this upward trajectory; and really, at the rate Dino’s going, we might be far from the peak. But we are already consistently good -- much sooner than many of us expected.
If that doesn’t have you excited for what’s up ahead, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever get there.