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Syracuse football: Time is running out for Dino Babers

There are no more excuses

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

I was a Syracuse Orange season ticket holder as the end of the Paul Pasqualoni tenure was unfolding. Despite earning a bowl bid, you could sense it was time for a change.

We all know that things went from bad to worse, but if Syracuse fans are honest about their hindsight they’d agree that the program had slipped and needed a change. Watching the Orange stumble at Virginia Tech last night brought back those same feelings.

Dino Babers might end up getting Syracuse to back-to-back bowl games. The administration is finally investing in the program. There were reasons I preached patience and development of a succession plan........until last night.

Last night turned into a three-hour national undressing of the Syracuse football program by Virginia Tech and ESPN. I don’t think you’ll find anyone associated with the program who enjoyed hearing the harsh, honest assessment of the performance. There was no escaping the fact that Syracuse was completely dominated by an opponent who is playing better, but is still a very average squad.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

I picked Syracuse to finish 7-5 this season and I thought they’d be 4-4 at this point because I expected a weeknight game in Lane to be a tough task. That was before the loss of Oronde Gadsden and others so while the record doesn’t shock me, it’s the lack of competitiveness and the complete disregard for Garrett Shrader’s well-being that has me ready to turn the page on this staff.

One of the reasons I felt it was time for Scott Shafer to go was his inability to stop exposing Eric Dungey to hits in blowout games. I get that Babers wanted to go into the second half last night hoping for some boost to his quarterback and offense. Syracuse put together a touchdown drive for the first time in three weeks and it made sense to get that group something to build upon.

However, when the Hokies held the ball the rest of the third quarter and pushed the lead to 25, that was the time to get Carlos Del-Rio Wilson some reps and let Shrader avoid more punishment. Stubborn coaching should not put a player who has been clearly off for the last month back on the field with a defense looking to inflict more pain. Syracuse has four games left and Babers has to win two of them to have a chance to remain in his position, so why send Shrader back out to get hit again and again.

All the good vibes from that touchdown drive were erased in the fourth quarter. Does anyone feel confident in the Orange next Friday when Boston College comes to town? What once looked like an easy win now feels like another national television embarrassment in front of an empty, angry home crowd. Can Dino and this leadership group find a way to pull out of this funk in the last four games? It sure feels like he’s got to finish 3-1 to even have a chance of being around in 2024 and his seat isn’t warm, it’s scorching hot.

I know many will push back on this notion, but even if it ends this year, Dino Babers will leave the Syracuse program better than he found it. Facilities are finally catching up to the lower ACC schools. Staffing investment has improved. Dino’s ability to get boosters to support the efforts should be recognized. It just feels like time has arrived to give someone else the chance to turn that progress into wins.