Wednesday’s news that Dino Babers and the Syracuse Orange had agreed to a contract extension was met with quite a bit of elation around these parts.
Though things started slow in terms of wins and losses for Babers (SU was just 8-16 in his first two seasons), this year was obviously the big payoff. The Orange cashed in on the promise of previous big upsets to go 9-3 (6-2 in the ACC) and earn a trip to the Camping World Bowl. The future looks bright for Syracuse football, and we’re excited to see Babers at the helm for what could be the start of the program’s actual revival.
Babers wasn’t the only ACC coach to receive an extension this week, however. On Tuesday, the rival Boston College Eagles also decided to add some years to their own coach’s contract. Steve Addazio was extended another two years, through 2022.
On the one hand, you can see why. Addazio came to BC in 2013 after four years of diminishing returns from predecessor Frank Spaziani. The Eagles went 7-6 in each of his first two years, then after a quick dip to 3-9, bounced back for another two 7-6 years. Boston College went 7-5 in 2018, and could very well end up at 7-6 again should they lose their bowl game against Boise State. You can see where things might also start to get frustrating...
Addazio seems like a solid coach in that he quickly made BC respectable again and continued to keep them at that level. Where Eagles fans are understandably frustrated, however, is that they’ve yet to take that next step toward greater success. They’ve struggled to beat ranked teams. They’ve struggled in ACC play. Addazio’s teams have also come undone to close out most seasons.
This is all made worse by what’s occurred here at Syracuse in such a short stretch. Babers arrived and gradually improved the foundation of the Orange program, then in year three, they blew up for a nine-win campaign. It’s been a decade since BC had one of those. Syracuse teams good and bad have also lorded over the Eagles since joining the ACC, going 4-2 in the six games so far.
All of those facts are how you get Eagles fans bemoaning the extension of their coach while Orange fans celebrate. We’re not pointing and laughing at BC at all here. Just pointing out the stark differences in reactions. Syracuse appears on an upward trajectory, while Boston College has seemingly stagnated. Sharing a division only puts a greater microscope on that difference. The ACC being perceptively “down” this year only adds insult to injury. If ever there was a year that Addazio’s teams were going to break out, this would’ve been it. Instead, it’s the same old results.
We’ve been here recently, as you’re keenly aware. Hell, we were there last year, technically, when there were more questions than answers following another late-season collapse. Things can change quickly. They did for us, though the structure was already there for a surge like this. It just needed a little extra push. And for once, we got it.
Addazio getting extended through 2022 doesn’t mean he’s there the whole time. But it also means he’s probably there for at least two more seasons. The only potential workaround there is if he took a discounted buyout in exchange for more years. As BC’s also a private school like SU, we won’t be learning that information, however.
The ACC’s in an interesting state of flux right now when you look beyond Clemson, and that’s exciting for the conference’s other 13 teams. Florida State probably needs another year or so to get back to full strength under Willie Taggart. The Coastal’s in shambles. Louisville’s a tire fire. NC State is always just short of what talent may indicate.
Everyone in the league thinks their current coach is the one to help them take advantage. Only a few can actually do it. This year, Babers proved he was one of them, while Addazio sort of fell short there. Roles could reverse next year. But the reactions to this week’s news are probably the most telling signs for what’s likely to happen come 2019.