Yes, we’re all pretty frustrated with aspects of the Syracuse Orange football team right now, and SU athletic director is no exception. On Wednesday, he spoke to Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson about the 2020 season so far. We’d recommend you read the whole piece, but we did want to focus on this quote:
“(Dino Babers is) going to be our coach in 2021 and I hope for a long time.”
Given the budget situation around COVID, plus his buyout, plus the overall state of the world and 2018 still being just two years ago, this is what most expected. But hearing Wildhack say it directly to Carlson at least seems to make it official-ish. Instead of the dreaded “vote of confidence,” his entire statement seems to provide some solid ground to Babers and this staff for the rest of this year and into next.
“That’s what he wants. That’s what I want. At the same time, we all know this is a result-oriented business to some degree. When you look at everything we’ve had to deal with this year, it’s been incredibly challenging. I’m not going to judge the book on Coach Babers solely on this year. I’m not going to do that. You can’t make emotional decisions. If you make emotional decisions, more often than not, you make the wrong decision. It’s about where are we deficient and how do we correct it?”
For those already set to move on from the Babers era, the above will sound like excuses. But again, there wasn’t really a chance that Syracuse was moving on this offseason. And the challenges this year were indeed pretty significant — and only became more so as the season has worn on.
Elsewhere in the piece, Wildhack acknowledges frustration and even states he shares it with the fans. However, it does appear that he’s willing to give Dino at least one more year to fix those issues.
With what should be a full offseason, the schedule we actually have in place and hopefully fewer injuries than the outbreak we’ve seen this fall, 2021 should provide us with a much better sense of whether or not Babers is up to the task. If not, Wildhack will have a hard decision to make — and for whatever it’s worth, this quote does seem to indicate he could opt to move on in that situation.
Though Wildhack didn’t initially hire Babers, they’ve worked together for over four years now and the coach’s successes (where they’ve occurred) have helped Wildhack increase budgets for football as the Orange aim to be more competitive in the NCAA’s most lucrative sport. There’s a good relationship here... one that’s good enough to give Dino a little extra wiggle room for the time being. But to me, these statements don’t sound like blank checks, either.