Orange Watch: Can Babers become first Syracuse coach to win six plus in third season?

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Moe Neal breaks free for a run against Wake Forest. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: No, according to one Nevada sports book (BetDSI) who’s early listing last month had Syracuse’s win total proposition at 4.5, last among the 14 ACC teams. With the league figuring to be as competitive as ever for the upcoming season, only six ACC teams were even projected to win seven or more games on the book’s board, it seemingly makes the Orange’s quest to hit the bowl-eligible six win mark that much more challenging.

Rebuilding a college football program, no matter the era and the number of regular season games played in a season (from nine to the present 12), is never easy.

From Ben Schwartzwalder in 1949 (SU had only won nine games in the previous five seasons), to Frank Maloney replacing Schwartzwalder in 1974, up to Dino Babers in 2016, and to each of the six coaches in between, other than Paul Pasqualoni benefitting from Dick MacPherson’s stockpile of talent in 1991-92, and to a lesser extent Doug Marrone taking his second team to a bowl victory, and Scott Shafer guiding his first year roster to the program’s last bowl game appearance in 2013, it’s been a struggle to turn direction on short notice.

Even MacPherson had to endure the derisive chants from the “Sack Coach Mac” crowd into his fourth season, and Pasqualoni fell from 10 win seasons and New Year’s Day bowl victories in his first two years, to 6-4-1 and no post season in 1993, his third season, before reeling off seven or more victories in seven of the next eight seasons, then finishing at six wins or less over his last three years at the helm.

Here’s a look at each Syracuse coach’s third season during the post-World War II era:

Ben Schwartzwalder – 1951
After guiding the Orangemen to nine wins in his first two seasons, matching the previous five years combined, Coach Ben continued his resurgence with a 5-4 record which still included a schedule against six teams now at the Div. 1-A level, before charging to 7-3 and the school’s first bowl bid a year later.

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Frank Maloney – 1976
After a quarter century under Schwartzwalder, Maloney arrived from Michigan eager to change the culture, but struggled with recruiting and aging facilities. After matching Schwartzwalder’s last year with a dismal 2-9 record in his inaugural campaign, SU was upset at Rutgers in the 1975 finale, a win short of seven victories and a potential Peach Bowl bid, and the team backtracked in Maloney’s third season to 3-8, including a home loss to Bowling Green.

Dick MacPherson – 1983
A three game winning streak to end Coach Mac’s third year, including Dome wins over Top 15 ranked Boston College and West Virginia pulled SU to 6-5, but with only 16 bowls/32 invitations at the time, Eastern independents had to win to impress, and the Orange bowl-less streak continued (only two bowls in 13 years).

Paul Pasqualoni – 1993
A tie at Texas and back-to-back blowout losses to Miami and West Virginia (outscored 92-0) were the first low marks of Coach P’s otherwise remarkable 14 year run,and the ‘Cuse finished 6-4-1.

Greg Robinson – 2007
Well, it wasn’t as bad as Robinson’s first year which the NCAA officially lists as a 0-10 season with the win over Buffalo vacated, but that’s only because one game was added to the regular season in 2006. Robinson’s third year finished 2-10 with a huge upset at Louisville and again Buffalo the only victories.

Doug Marrone – 2011
An impressive bowl win over Kansas State to finish the previous year didn’t carry over to Marrone’s third season which included three games that went in OT or 2OT, and ended with a five game losing streak and 5-7 mark.

Scott Shafer – 2015
With injuries decimating an already thin ACC-caliber roster, the Orange won only two ACC games and beat Rhode Island and Central Michigan (in OT) to finish 4-8.

Dino Babers – 2018
We’ll predict in August.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 505 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.