Even Syracuse football’s best coaches needed time

Syracuse has struggled so far in 2016
Syracuse has struggled so far in 2016

Before the 2016 Syracuse football season, head coach Dino Babers pleaded with the Orange fan base for patience. Success will come, just not immediately.

“I know this is the google era, where everyone wants to google it, and they want the answer right now,” Babers said. “Just be slow to go and give us some time. It will work.”

Go back in Syracuse football’s history, and that’s what some of SU’s former coaches would’ve been saying after their first seasons, as well.

Going back to 1949 when legendary coach Ben Schwartzwalder first took the helm at Syracuse. His first team went 4-5, the start of three mostly middling seasons at SU. From 1949 to 1951, the team went 14-14, and never cracked the top 25.

It wasn’t until his fourth season that Schwartzwalder found any success, with the Orange going 7-3 and losing in the Orange Bowl to finish with a No. 14 ranking. It took 11 seasons before Syracuse’s magical 1959 Cotton Bowl run, finishing the season 11-0.

» Related: Tough to be patient with Syracuse in world of Power Five

SU’s next coach, Frank Maloney, went 32-46-3 overall, and it took him six seasons to reach the seven win plateau.

Another SU legend, Dick MacPherson, was seven seasons into his tenure before his 1987 team went 11-0-1. He had not won more than seven games prior to that. He went 4-6-1 in his first year.

Paul Pasqualoni proved to be the exception to the rule, winning right away at Syracuse. SU went 20-4 during his first two seasons at The Hill.

The He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named era started with a 1-10 season (though that one win is technically vacated because of NCAA sanctions), which was followed by Doug Marrone’s 4-8 mark in his first year.

Scott Shafer actually posted the second best record of the modern era, going 7-6 in the 2013 season, and a win in the Texas Bowl.

If you combine the overall record of SU’s last seven head coaches in their first seasons, it comes out to 32-46-1, or a .405 win percentage. That averages out to 4.8 wins per season, which would be more or less what Syracuse is expected to win this season.

Babers is right. If past history is any indicator, success will not come right away, and fans need to be patient. It will take time to implement a new system and recruit the right players into the offensive and defensive schemes.

Frequently, it will take at least three seasons, and Syracuse coaches have not typically had success until later in their tenures.

“Give us time,” Babers said. “It will work.”

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.