Given the upward trajectory of the Syracuse Orange football program, there isn’t much to criticize Dino Babers on. But one potential angle (I guess) could be his lack of a focus on New York State while recruiting.
The Daily Orange leaned into that quite a bit in Monday’s article, grabbing feedback from coaches around the Empire State and finding mixed reviews about Babers and his priorities bringing in-state talent to the program.
Many of the coaches in the CNY and Western New York were fine with the way things were going. Some of the downstate coaches weren’t as thrilled with the way their players were being passed up. However, it’s worth noting first and foremost that Syracuse doesn’t need New York recruits to win.
This isn’t a situation like you see in Southern talent hotbeds like North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, etc. It’s not even like New Jersey, which has risen considerably in recent years. New York has one of the lowest blue-chip ratings in the country. The handful of elite prospects go to Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State or any other top-level program that comes calling. New Jersey’s a far bigger priority for Syracuse and one that we’ve seen Babers mine already. But the needed skill set for this offense is speed. How many New York kids are going to have that?
No, instead New York has coaches who will say things like this:
“To not get a phone call back, it’s just completely disrespectful. As far as I’m concerned, I will never send another kid to Syracuse… I think the guy is, to put it bluntly, a complete piece of sh*t.”
If you’re Babers, would you really want to bother with these sorts of people, even if they did have blue-chippers?
Again, Babers is looking for speed, and New York State offenses just aren’t going to have a lot of it. At least not as much as places like Florida, where about 25 percent of the current Orange roster comes from.
But that doesn’t mean Syracuse is passing up quality New York recruits, either. Three of this year’s commits -- including four-star offensive tackle Qadir White -- are New York prospects. Cameron Jordan was part of the 2017 class.
Babers has a system he’s recruiting to. If players don’t fit it, why should he feel obligated to bring them into the program? That only hurts his ability to improve Syracuse football quicker.
The assumption by some coaches around the state that he “owes” them something is false. We’re a private school. And even if we weren’t, the head coach’s job is to put his program in the best position to win, with the best players. It’s not his responsibility to prop up every high school outfit across New York.
When Doug Marrone took over, one of his first priorities was to lock down New York State, getting some quality kids from the area and coaching them up to become better players. Marrone didn’t have a system. He just knew the quickest way to get talent and depth back into the program was to mine the local area and reconnect with the schools Greg Robinson had passed over.
However, by the end, he was leaning on other states for the team’s most talented additions, and rightfully so. Scott Shafer did the same, adding players from New York, but not at the risk of losing out on potentially better prospects in New Jersey, Ohio and Florida (among other locales).
Babers will continue to recruit the players that best fit his offense. And it’s very likely that the largest percentage of those will be from areas like Florida. But if a New York player fits the bill, he’ll be giving them a call. He’s already proven that, and will continue to do so. No coach is obligated to stock their roster with lesser athletes just to appease in-state coaches. Why hold Babers to such a standard?