In the latest edition of a multi-part series, editorial staff of The Juice Online discuss various topics on Syracuse athletics. Today’s topic: What are your immediate reactions to the firing of football coach Scott Shafer? The Juice Online’s Brad Bierman and Jim Stechschulte weighed in.
Brad Bierman: In this instantaneous news cycle world we live in, we’re glad that the Syracuse men’s cross country and women’s field hockey teams received their just due over the weekend in becoming the school’s 29th and 30th respective national team titlists, because now that Scott Shafer has been officially relieved of his job, his departure tied into the spotlight of coaching one last Dome game in the season finale against Boston College, and the critically important search by Mark Coyle for his successor, will dominate the Orange sports scene.
We had to chuckle when the immediate reaction by some in the coaching fraternity was to question the university’s decision to make a Monday morning announcement with a game still left to play. In this day and age while it’s easily predictable that the news broke on Twitter, courtesy of Sports Illustrated in this case, every media source covering the program both locally, regionally, and nationally, already had the “Shafer has been fired” story at the ready to publish via some device, somehow. It was simply the fact SI had its sources lined up at the time it decided to hit the “Tweet” button.
That now par-for-the-course method of breaking news forced the university’s hand to confirm the coaching change, something it had intended to announce next Sunday, and set into play the domino effect of issuing a written statement from Coyle and calling the player’s into a mandatory Monday meeting to present the news firsthand. This also upset the intended continuity of the beautifully choreographed method in which Coyle has conducted himself during the season in objectively analyzing the program, before he now embarks on his course of action both from a program financial commitment standpoint, and the actual hiring the school’s 30th head football coach, both men charged with making Orange football relevant again.
Jim Stechschulte: While I have no doubt that Scott Shafer is a good man and know he has done a lot for the Syracuse football program in his seven years on campus, he has proven that he was miscast as head coach.
The Orange were in a bad spot with the timing of Doug Marrone’s departure and promoting Shafer appeared to be a move based on keeping a rising program on the right track. However, Shafer undid a lot of positives, starting with assembling a staff that proved to be as unprepared for their roles as he did. The obvious example of this is his initial offensive coordinator, George McDonald, had to be relieved of his job less than halfway through his first season.
With a team often short on talent, Shafer did them no favors. While known for being an aggressive defensive coordinator, Shafer hurt himself with constant timid offensive decisions and poor game management as a head coach. He routinely called for punts in opponent territory, botched the same clock management decision in consecutive weeks to Pitt and Florida State last month, and opted for a field goal on fourth-and-goal at the N.C. State one-yard-line on SU’s opening drive last Saturday. While his talk was about putting players in position to win and never quitting, his actions proved the contrary.