Syracuse football: Time is running out

Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When you look at the Syracuse Orange football team and see a 3-3 record with no additional context, it’s easy to shrug. This team won a single game last season, had a few tough opponents on the early schedule and doesn’t have a ton of talent on the roster. Winning half of your games through six contests sounds about right.

And yet... those of us watching the ups and downs of each game thus far know there’s far more to it all. While not necessarily that “great” of a team, this Syracuse squad could pretty easily be 5-1 or 6-0. Or 2-4, too, if we’re being honest. So while 3-3 splits the difference to an extent, it also highlights the biggest problem for Syracuse right now — and for much of the last couple seasons:

Under Dino Babers, Syracuse has almost exclusively been about what should or could be, and not what is, save the 2018 campaign.

Now, teams fall short all the time. THIS team fell short all the time even before Dino arrived on campus. So the near-misses don’t just sit at his feet. It’s part of the deal with being an Orange fan in pretty much every sport but men’s lacrosse. But this particular loss highlights something that’s been a recurring theme for Babers: Mismanaging games and putting Syracuse in position to suffer these sort of last-second losses.

Against Wake Forest on Saturday, he accepted a penalty that gave Wake an opportunity to score a touchdown — points that if they hadn’t happened would’ve meant a Syracuse win. SU opted for a field goal instead of going for it on fourth and short. There were questionable decisions around timeouts and time management at the end of the first half. He nearly tried to go for a two-point conversion to win the game despite basically needing to run (something Wake knew), and was only bailed out by an inexplicable delay of game that just forced a longer Andre Szmyt extra point.

Of course, we’ve seen all of this before, as puzzling decisions repeat themselves over and over. Whether it’s having no discernible gameplan for the first quarter vs. FSU, or much of the second half vs. Rutgers, or mismanaging the clock in what would’ve been an amazing upset vs. Clemson in 2018... I could go on, of course. But you get the point.

While not the only issue for this program right now, one of the biggest ones is how coaching decisions are regularly poor. And even when they’re not as obvious as some of the things we saw today or in aforementioned games, the clock mismanagement stuff is seemingly always there as well.

So now we sit at a crossroads, in terms of the program overall, the season and Babers’s tenure at Syracuse. Do you give credit for getting this team to a point where they could be 6-0, or ding Dino for how they’re not and how they could be 2-4? Does this team have enough in the tank to close strong and make a bowl after crushing defeats? The positive view says solid efforts vs. Florida State and Wake Forest could spell better games to come. The negative view says those were opportunities pissed away, with more of those on the way as well.

I said this on Twitter immediately following the game, but this is the path I never saw possible for 2021. Dino, by way of game mismanagement, is seemingly going to find a way to get fired (or mentally fired by this fan base) for going 5-7 when he should’ve gone 7-5. Going into this fall, I was pretty confident that 5-7 with close games brings Babers back. Now? I don’t know how you defend a 5-7 season with more endings like these last two weekends have given us. The onus is directly on Babers — or any coach in year six of his tenure — to be better than that.

Yes, there are still six games remaining. And yes, they could still turn things around on this season. But time is running out for Babers to re-inspire faith from this fan base. For many, there’s already no shot. But for the rest, he has a limited window remaining to show that coaching-induced losses like what we saw vs. Wake are the exception instead of the rule.


Not sure how he would even improve next year

We would clearly be a ground and pound team with an air raid staff and personnel.

But who does the school even hire if they let him go?

Does the fan base have irresponsible expectations for a school like Syracuse in 2021 and on with the sport the way it is?

There was an article over the spring or summer titled occasionally great or consistently good

There were the obvious and ridiculous) calls for 10+ wins as the bar. But I feel like most reasonable fans would accept 8 win avg (some 6 win seasons and a 9/10 win occasionally mixed in) as the bar.
That being said if you are consistently a 4 win team (us), 6 wins would be occasionally great. Which is not acceptable.
The trouble is a hard problem this season. We may get to 6 wins based solely on the grit and heart of the players. What do you do then? Can’t necessarily have Dino come back as a lame duck on what is presumably his last contract year next year, but certainly cannot extend him further out with the overall record and state of the team.


I would accept a 6 win average

I just want to go to a bowl more often than not and a staff that doesn’t do embarrassing stuff every other week.

I definitely would sign up for bowl game almost every year w a 6 win avg right now. I don’t think 8 avg should be unattainable though.

Eight-win average isn’t attainable

For any long stretch. We can talk six or seven, maybe. But a lot needs to break right for Syracuse to win eight games in a single year — never mind average that over time.

Even look back at the better periods in our history and we were barely if at all averaging eight wins. If that’s your baseline, you’re going to be disappointed no matter who’s the coach.

can we call it 7.5?

Stop with the "who would they hire" nonsense. Hes not good enough.

This is what this fanbase is. I’m not even among those who want to fire Dino now (I agree with the premise of this article, though) but this is the same shit we went through when Shafer needed to be canned: there’s no one to hire, everyone will transfer, recruits will bail, blah blah blah. Syracuse is always in some special situation that no one else has ever seen.

Same logic leads to people wanting Gerry McNamara to succeed Jim Boeheim. It’s so tiring.

The athletic department should be quietly looking for a new coach now.

This guy cannot get it done. I would only retain Tony White.


You doooooo get to think more than one step ahead… seriously.

Do you not remember the coaching search before we got dino? I mean come on man. Get real.

Talk about nonsense. The conversations on this site have gone to shit since they shut down .com.

Incompetence doesn’t get Babers fired, empty seats gets him fired.
Friday night against Clemson Sean Tucker should go out for the coin- toss wearing a SU jacket, then reveal his #44 at the center S, The packed house goes crazy. It’s a no-brainer with absolutely no down side, and SU calls itself a media school?

bold of you to assume a packed house

Packed house?

I want whatever drugs your on.
But it would be nice

I’ll sell you some of the drugs I am on.
For Clemson? I expect a crowd.

I guess

When you use the word packed house I thought close to a sell out. And I don’t think that’s even remotely possible

Friday night works against a sell out (SU needs out of town alumni + opposing fans to get there), but a big name, vulnerable opponent playing at night when SU has played nothing but extremely entertaining games the past month? Should be a good audience.

Brutal year to be hiring vs last and possibly next year. (Wins above replacement)

There will be several major programs turning over and then you get to the turnover from coaches leaving from that next level. (Those secondary programs will all be better destinations than SU).

Dino would certainly get a lower level job out west if he is released from his buyout. So I don’t get this unless the team quits on him. The best case (other than another 2018) is narrow bowls and a nice offer from a western school or Hawaii after next season. But I worry about losing staff after this season. Improving a school’s win total by 4-5 games in one year gets you noticed.

This year the hire will probably be internal or worse.

White has proven to be a good DC and should get an opportunity to go to a bigger gig regardless of what happens to Dino. I really don’t know much about outside prospects should the bottom fall out and we fire Dino. If he stays I’m not worried about losing anyone but white and maybe the new O line coach.

What secondary programs?

UCF, Houston, Boise, Cincy and BYU are all about to join the Big 12 and/or just changed coaches last year. What other G5s are arguably better jobs than any P5?

The coaching mismanagement

For both Dino and the OC are shocking. I mean makes me almost want Brian Ward back. Ok no not really.

Ward was the DC, and we have Zero problem there with White.

You missed my sarcasm

Since I’m known on this board for hating Ward and calling for his firing a full year before he was gone. His defense for dummies playbook was just awful.

There’s a font for that.

And this is the one.

With no passing game, the running game will close up in the 2nd half.

Clemson, Va Tech, Boston College, Louisville, NC State, Pitt,.

Syracuse coaching staff is at a major disadvantage the 2nd half of the season. Even if all the other head coaches and coordinators were out with COVID I would still feel the same way. I feel bad for the players that their offensive coaches are in way over their heads. The fact that the offensive "masterminds" of this system actually believe that Garret Schrader’s running ability will save SU’s season is a joke. They do not know what else to do. They are digging themselves a career grave. No one will hire you !

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