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Syracuse football: time for the next chapter

And let’s talk honestly about the program beyond the HC

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange will have a new head coach going into the 2024 season. They will have a very reasonable schedule. What they won’t have is the faith in the program from many Orange fans.....and with good reason.

I don’t expect Dino Babers to be fired this weekend, or this week, but last night was the final nail. Backup QB, backup offensive line, backup wide receivers, it doesn’t matter. The Orange had LeQuint Allen and nothing else on offense and let a Boston College team escape with a 17-10 win to clinch bowl eligibility.

The narrative continues that BC is rising as the season goes on and while I completely disagree that they are anything other than a mediocre team beating bad teams, the fact remains that perception matters more than anything. So what’s Syracuse’s perception outside of the fanbase? Last night two national college football media members shared their view and it’s one you need to read and not the “Dino is a good coach” part, I think we’ve exhausted the good will there.

No, I want you to focus on the “Syracuse is an unserious program” and the comments from David Hale that “it’s a mess”, and why this era as frustrating as it is, still puts the Orange in a better spot than they were prior to Dino.

The next Syracuse HC will have a better chance than Greg Robinson, Doug Marrone, Scott Shafer, and Dino Babers. Why? Well after 20+ years of apathy and neglect, there is some movement to invest in football. We’ve talked about the Dome upgrades, the Lally Project, and an increase in staff within the program. That’s a positive step, but comes with a problem.

While our ACC peers spent the last decade doing those things, Syracuse is playing catch up. They are moving on to NIL funding and revenue generation and Syracuse lost talent because they weren’t ready. When you start to look at head coach candidates, as we will be doing, you should look more at those who have succeeded with limited resources.

The search should start with Sean Lewis and Tony White, but it can’t be limited to people who spent time at Syracuse. Dan Mullen felt he wasn’t supported enough at Florida, how is he going to be the answer for the Orange? Ed Orgeron had the most dominant team in recent memory and his off-field behavior meant LSU boosters couldn’t wait to get rid of him. Those guys were good calls ten years ago, but it doesn’t mean they are the slam dunk hires some seem to think- especially if their salaries eat into the assistant pool.

Why do I say Lewis and White? Forget about Lewis’ connection to Babers. He went to Kent State and was competitive against big-time teams. He was hand-picked by Deion Sanders because of his offensive mind and now he’s being thrown off the bus and likely ready to leave Boulder. White has gone to Nebraska and shown his defense can travel. Both coaches understand the reality at Syracuse so they won’t come in and be shocked at the condition they find.

That matters because the search firm will spin a tail of all the wonderful things happening at Syracuse, but as Bud and David point out, that’s not in line with today’s P5 football. It doesn’t win a good coach can’t win games, but it’s going to take someone who can shop at Aldi’s and deliver a meal that would suit a four-star restaurant. It’s going to take someone who can actually deliver more than clichés. Someone who doesn’t throw player health to the wind. Someone who can deliver immediate results for a jaded fanbase and there are coaches out there who can do just that, but it also takes administration support.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NC State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of people felt the 4-0 start was fraudulent because of who Syracuse played and the reality is that it’s the schedule this program needs right now. If you want to have backups better prepared to step in, they need bowl practices. You want better recruits- well going to the Pinstripe or Birmingham Bowls is a lot better than sending your players home the first week in December. Syracuse admins need to find a way to schedule smart and invest the neutral site game money into the program.

Syracuse football doesn’t need to find a Boeheim or Simmons who will become a coaching lifer. Right now they need someone who can get the program back on track and trending upward so the head coach after them has a better foundation to build upon.

The next chapter of Syracuse football needs to be written by someone who isn’t baking cakes, but rather someone who knows how to make an efficient and effective renovation.