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Syracuse football coaching staff stock watch: No bowl eligibility edition

This is about Dino Babers’s staff, FYI.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Life got in the way of this post last week, but maybe that’s for the best. The Syracuse Orange looked resurgent after throttling Duke, 49-6, and that probably glosses over the job the staff was doing in that game.

But this week hopefully provides a better assessment of Dino Babers’s coaching staff, in light of SU picking up loss No. 7. Syracuse fell to the Louisville Cardinals. The team seemed to show plenty of fight (at least on one side of the ball), and that’s a good sign for this staff’s connection to the players. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best coaches, though, as we’ll discuss below.

Here’s your stock watch for Syracuse’s assistants, with one game to go.

Who’s definitely safe?

  • Justin Lustig, special teams/outisde receivers
  • Nick Monroe, safeties/nickelbacks
  • Kim McCloud, cornerbacks
  • Reno Ferri, tight ends/inside receivers

Lustig’s special teams group has stepped back slightly this year, but not enough to be any sort of deal-breaker. We’re likely fighting off other programs to keep him on staff this offseason, to be honest.

Monroe stays because if we have any hope of improving recruiting, it probably comes from Florida and he’s likely a bit part of that effort.

If you’ve been following Dino Babers’s career, Kim McCloud’s been around a long time, so he’s not going anywhere — though maybe there’s a better spot for him to sit on staff given the struggles at corner this year.

Reno Ferri’s done a great job in the DMV area, and the tight ends have actually looked pretty good. The inside receiver questions are real, however. That group has underwhelmed quite a bit this year as Sean Riley and Nykeim Johnson have basically disappeared.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Who could be fine right now?

  • Vinson Reynolds, defensive line

Reynolds was a question mark before McKinley Wiliams returned, and since the line’s looked better in the last couple weeks, I think he’s secured his spot. He also does some quality recruiting work in the Midwest.

Who has some work to do?

  • Mike Lynch, offensive coordinator/running backs
  • Steve Stanard, interim defensive coordinator/linebackers
  • Mike Cavanaugh, offensive line
  • Kirk Martin, quarterbacks

This season’s been filled play-calling and running game struggles that fall directly at Lynch’s feet. However, the shifts on the line have paid major dividends the last couple weeks, and the run game has looked significantly better too. I don’t see a reality where Babers scraps most of his offensive staff, and he’s probably looking for continuity. If we see more from SU’s offense once again this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lynch stick around (even if I don’t agree with it).

While Stanard won major points for the Duke game, the Louisville contest probably proved that out as a mirage. SU’s linebackers have looked rough this year (and were a big part of the struggles vs. Louisville). The position group needs a complete overhaul.

Admittedly, the offensive line has looked a lot better these past couple weeks, but curious what took Cavanaugh so long to make that switch. You also can’t just erase the porous performance we saw at the start of the year. There’s zero chance he’s still on staff next year.

The main thing that would keep Kirk Martin around is his family connection with Babers. Still, this could wind up being a mutual parting of ways that lands Martin back in his native Texas, while SU goes another route at QB coach. DeVito’s played well this year, but also still needs some aspects of his game to develop better. A new position coach could do a lot there.


Am I sort of right? Super wrong? Happy to discuss the coaching staff a bit more below.