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Syracuse football: looking at John Wildhack’s coaching hires

Only a couple really matter to you but it’s hard to find a preference

Louisville v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With Syracuse Orange football searching for a new Head Coach, there’s been some discussion about what we might learn from other Head Coaches hired by John Wildhack.

We’ll start with the major hires, but there’s more than just those coaches you know by name.

Adrian Autry (men’s basketball): Autry was the longest-tenured assistant on Jim Boeheim’s staff. He had been promoted to Associate Head Coach and he had worked at Virginia Tech prior to coming back to his alma mater. Was he Wildhack’s choice? Boeheim’s choice? The BOT’s choice? Either way it wasn’t a search and we knew the internal hire was the likely path, even if the exit was messy.

Felisha Legette-Jack (women’s basketball): One of Syracuse’s greatest women’s basketball athletes, Wildhack brought the Syracuse native back home (a year later than he should have). FLJ’s been able to immediately repair the damage done at the end of the Quentin Hillsman era.

Vonn Read (Interim WBB): the exodus of players and firing of Hillsman came at a bad time for Syracuse, so they promoted Read to Interim Head Coach for one season. Why the Orange promoted the top assistant of a program that was accused of player mistreatment is a mystery and the on-court results were a disaster.

Gary Gait (men’s lacrosse): Gait had been targeted as the successor to John Desko for almost a decade so this was an easy hire. The on-field results haven’t followed as of yet, but recruiting is picking up quite a bit and there’s a lot of buzz around the 2024 team so let’s see how it plays. The departure of Desko like Boeheim seemed a bit messy for a legendary coach, but Gait had been tabbed as the successor for close to a decade so no surprise here.

Kayla Treanor (women’s lacrosse); Treanor returned to her alma mater to replace Gait. She came from an assistant coaching job at Boston College and after two seasons, she’s now looking to prove that she can bring the women their first NCAA Championship.

2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Now, those are the names you know but there are more hires to review.

Britni Smith (Ice Hockey): a former player under the program’s prior coach Paul Flanagan, Smith came to Syracuse from Clarkson where she was an assistant. This is Smith’s first head coaching position and so far the Orange are 13-35-4 in her tenure.

Brien Bell (XC/Track): Bell served as Associate Head Coach under Chris Fox and when Fox left to start the Reebok Boston Track Club, Bell’s promotion was an easy call. The Orange struggled initially after the graduation of Justyn Knight, but have rebounded recently to produce quality performances and strong recruiting classes.

Lynn Farquhar (Field Hockey): a former Syracuse assistant, Farquhar came back to Syracuse after eight years as head coach at St. Joseph’s. The Orange were 11-8 this season losing in the NCAA quarterfinals.

2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Rowing Championship Photo by Drew Hallowell/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Luke McGee (W. Rowing): since he was hired after the 2018 season, McGee has led the Orange to the NCAA Championships three times, including a program-best 10th place finish in 2021. McGee came to Syracuse after a stint as Head Coach for the US Men’s National Team. In terms of accomplishments, this is Wildhack’s best hire so far.

Nicky Thrasher Adams (W. Soccer): Adams was hired away from Rice University where she was the head coach from 2006-2018. Since starting at Syracuse, the Orange have won only three ACC games. It’s a tough conference, but the Syracuse women have not been able to benefit from the success of the men’s program.

Shannon Doepking (Softball): Doepking came to Syracuse from Dartmouth where she was the head coach for four seasons, winning two Ivy League titles. That success has not followed to Syracuse where the program has also faced allegations of abuse while compiling an ACC record of 36-67-1.

Bakeer Ganesharatnam (Volleyball): after his head coach contract was not renewed by Temple, Syracuse decided he was still the right person to take over after Leonid Yelin’s retirement. The Orange are currently 13-42 under his tenure and head into tonight’s match against #3 Pitt with an 0-17 ACC record this season.

Many people pointed out that Wildhack has hired four Syracuse alums to lead their respective sports, but looking at the other sports there isn’t a clear pattern. The Olympic sports would not use a search firm in the hiring process and looking at the results from the outside hires we should be thankful a firm is involved with finding Dino Babers’ successor.

Funding issues are not limited to Syracuse football, but the lack of success in several sports makes you think that this won’t be the only head coach search taking place in Syracuse in the next twelve months.