After a disappointing 2020 Syracuse Orange football season, there has been speculation on whether head coach Dino Babers’s job is in danger. However, in an interview with Syracuse.com, Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said that Babers, “is not on the hot seat.”
Syracuse AD on Dino Babers in 2021: ‘He’s not on the hot seat’ | https://t.co/fMKHORnGuX— Nate Mink (@MinkNate) December 9, 2020
Wildhack’s quote in full is a pretty firm statement that he supports Babers for the foreseeable future.
“Am I going to call it a make-or-break year? No I’m not. The proverbial hot seat, to use your word, it’s already out there. He’s not on the hot seat, so take all that chatter and just eliminate it. Eliminate it. It’s not like ‘21 is a make-it-or-break-it year that you have to hit this threshold; if you don’t, you’re gone.”
Wildhack does go on to say that he does expect “significant improvement in our record,” and that wins would be important in evaluating how Babers is doing as head coach. He also goes to point out offensive performance and health issues in his interview.
“Clearly, our offensive performance was not acceptable to anyone,” Wildhack said. “There’s no question about that. We have to get people healthy. We have to keep them healthy, and it’s hard to do. There’s not a lot of programs that can do it, but we have to continue to create depth that there’s not a lot of difference between the ones and twos.”
I’m personally not out on Dino and I don’t necessarily think that bowl-or-bust is exactly the right mentality for the 2021 season. While a bowl would pretty much secure his job for the future, I think a four or five win season with multiple close losses where Syracuse is competitive throughout the game could still be enough to keep his job.
I think it’s also important that Wildhack supports Babers fully for the upcoming season and for the short-term future. There’s faith up and down the program from head officials like him to seniors and future recruits that Babers can turn around the program and get it back into bowl contention. At the very least, it takes some pressure off Babers for the need to hit a specific win target.
However, I still think it’s also way too early to talk about a coaching change at the end of the 2021 season. We need to see how the team performs during that season. Making rash decisions about Babers’s job based on an unusual 2020 football season is not smart. Let’s talk again halfway through the 2021 campaign. Then we’ll see if Wildhack re-introduces the hot seat.