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Syracuse football: it’s all about 2023 and beyond

Some of you won’t be happy, but it’s the reality

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange lost their 5th straight game last night. On a night where the offense finally clicked, the thinned-out defense couldn’t slow down the Demon Deacons.

Some of you have been yelling since last December that a new head coach is needed. You’ve ignored the leaked $10m buyout, you’ve ignored the millions Syracuse is investing in the JMA Dome and the Lally complex. You want a change and that’s understandable....but it’s not happening on your time line.

Barring a scandal, Dino Babers is returning in 2023. Frankly that doesn’t matter as much to the program’s success as who is back on the staff next summer. We know how people feel about the work of Tony White with the defense and anyone with eyes can see the improved offense that came with Robert Anae and Jason Beck. Those additions the last couple of years have mattered and made the Orange a more competitive team, even if it hasn’t translated to a November win.

What hasn’t improved has been the injury report and honestly that’s where SU is better off investing, instead of buying a large buyout this winter. The foundation of many programs, especially football needs to be addressed, When Director of Sports Medicine Brad Pike left for Cincinnati in May, Syracuse didn’t bring on a replacement for five months. As mentioned by Mikel Jones at ACC Kickoff, Syracuse is the only ACC school without a dedicated sports nutritionist on staff. The football wing is 31 years old. When we talk about what happened to the Orange, it’s not the conference change, it’s the inability to get with the times.

These areas are critical to the rebuild of any program, but especially for a P5 football team. Are the annual injury issues related to recruiting, player development and proper diet and nutrition? It’s likely more than just bad luck to keep seeing the same things pop up so firing and hiring a brand new staff while continuing to neglect the other areas seems like a bad way to address the problems of Syracuse football. The Lally project seems like a long overdue response, but taking millions from the project to buy out Babers seems like proping up a support beam with a ladder and hoping things are going to be fine.

I’ve personally moved on from Dino Babers. He’s a likable guy but he’s made no improvement in his game and player management. We saw what LeQuint Allen was able to do last night and wonder why he didn’t get touches with a struggling offense. The decision not to pull starters against Wagner or Florida State adds to injury issues and keeps younger players from gaining experience.

Which brings me to my main point, the promise of a solid season turning into something special has passed. Syracuse met it’s goal of a bowl game, it gets the extra practices and another game for these younger players to be ready for the spring and next season. We’ll have the same discussions on Dino for the next year- if he can’t get 6 wins in 2023, then Syracuse should cut the cord early as the buyout is far less daunting.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Wake Forest Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Even if he can get to 6, he’ll be heading into his final year (we assume) and that’s not a good place for any program. John Wildhack and the Board of Trustees need a transition plan and they need it established sooner than later. Would Tony White reject other offers if he knows he’ll take over in 2024? Would a promise of a promotion to OC at that time keep Beck? Would Babers transition to a general-manager type role where he could offer program guidance and still be around to mentor players and meet with families?

Get your grievances out but understand that unless you’re writing that $10m check, Dino Babers is going to be heading into 2023 leading a Syracuse team looking for the program’s first back-to-back bowl game appearances since 2012-13.