Yesterday, it was reported that former college football coach Tommy Tuberville was considering running for governor of Alabama. Tuberville has been a head coach at Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech and (most recently) Cincinnati, and at 62 years old, he may be looking for a career change.
For SB Nation, this birthed the idea of other college football coaches as governors, which got us thinking: which Syracuse Orange football coach would be the most reasonable (or likely) governor of New York State?
A look at the potential candidates’ qualifications
Dino Babers (2016-present)
Babers came to Syracuse in late 2015, and quickly started changing things up, replacing nutrition elements, strength coaches and more. The culture change brought some casualties in the form of transfers, but 15 months on the job and you can see Dino’s fingerprints all over SU football. He’s a man of quick action and decisive measures.
He’s also a born politician, it would seem. Could you imagine this at a political rally? The quips he comes up with on the fly would endear him to the press in Albany. The movie references would keep him hip for the kids, who don’t typically show much engagement on gubernatorial matters. No matter who he campaigned against, it would be a landslide victory. You can feel Andrew Cuomo’s seat getting warm already.
Scott Shafer (2013-15)
Shafer would appeal heavily to the upstate crowd, easily pitching the importance of small towns and family values. He’s an old-school Americana guy. He also has a hashtag ready to go (#IStandWithShafer), and I’m sure you’ll find some of those shirts hanging around the CNY area here and there, too.
Where he could be scuttled is his relationship with the press. As mentioned during his final year, Coach needed to “step out of the car” a little more often. The defense-as-offense tactic was his football mantra, and how he handled his public persona in the late days of his regime. If #FakeNews hadn’t become a thing on a national scale with the recent presidential election, a Shafer gubernatorial campaign may have coined it instead.
Doug Marrone (2009-2012)
Saint Doug’s sales pitch would resemble the one he took on the recruiting trail in 2009 when reestablishing the Orange’s pipeline in New York City. The New York-born favored son returns. He gets your problems and understands his own. He wants to help us all be better together. And he’ll burn some shoes in the process.
Despite the smile that could light up a thousand rooms when he arrived at SU, however, Marrone’s recent vintage has not been as cheery. The people of Buffalo are probably still conflicted about his departure from the Bills. And now he’s like a lot of other downstate carpetbaggers, settling down in Florida. The vote would likely be pretty split between upstate and downstate constituents, which could hurt in any election.
Greg Robinson (2005-2008)
Would struggle to appeal to New York voters, since he abandoned the state and surrounding areas while recruiting for the Orange during his tenure. He certainly had a knack for using children’s books to make greater points, which scores political points with some. But that also brings up the biggest issue of his coaching stay: the promise of things that would never come.
You can’t give false hope for four years as a coach, just like you can’t for six as a governor. Whoever his opponent may be would call him on that quickly.
Paul Pasqualoni (1991-2004)
Won’t leave the job until he’s fired, so you don’t have to worry about him using the governorship of New York as means to a greater political end. He understands greatness, but also understands how to squander it, which... yeah, makes him like pretty much any other politician.
Some may question the current, ongoing hostage situation he’s part of at Boston College as a matter of disloyalty to New York State. It could also be a sympathy card he could play at will.
Dick MacPherson (1981-90)
MacPherson’s beloved in Central New York and the surrounding areas, though some may doubt his abilities to take on a bigger job after his unsuccessful stint with the New England Patriots.
He has experience not just selling you on the promise of the future, but delivering on it too. It may have taken a few years, but Coach Mac was able to evolve Syracuse from also-ran to national power. He could potentially do the same for New York State.
Kept things to more recent coaches, but you can feel free to tout the resumes of Frank Maloney, Ben Schwartzwalder (could see this campaign being problematic...), Ossie Solem and Vic Hanson below.
If we’re picking a winner from the recent list, however, it may be a dead heat between Babers and Marrone. Babers has been a head coach for just five years, and has still shown little wear from the stresses of the job (and embraces the media portion of things). Marrone, on the other hand, was exhausted after four, and it’s only gotten worse from there.
Which former Syracuse coach would you back as governor of New York State?