Former Syracuse football star Tom Coughlin was on hand for the ceremonial coin flip, but questions from reporters immediately turned to the NFL job market.
Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants, was fired in the offseason. He confirmed that he had met with the Buffalo Bills in the spring, but wouldn’t offer any more insight.
“[Spring] was the last time that I heard from them,” Coughlin said. “All that stuff that’s going on is a bunch of you know what.”
Coughlin grew more ornery when pressed for more details.
“That’s none of your business, okay?” he said.
As it relates to Syracuse, Coughlin met with Babers prior to the game and liked what he saw from Syracuse’s new style of play.
“We talked about Syracuse football, getting Syracuse football back to where it belongs,” Coughlin said. “He really is a good football coach, very sharp, very smart. To see particular style, and what his intentions are […] I hope it works.”
SPECIAL TEAMS STRUGGLES
Special teams hurt Syracuse during Saturday’s 50-33 loss to Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium.
It started early in the first quarter after Syracuse had just scored a touchdown to pull within 7-6. But Cole Murphy’s PAT was blocked, and Notre Dame defensive back Cole Luke scooped up the ball and ran the length of the field for two points.
“We lost special teams today,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. It’s been one of our strengths. It was one of those things we knew we had to win today. I’m not throwing those guys under the bus. I think overall they’ve probably been our strongest unit, stronger than the offense, stronger than our defense the entire year, but obviously not today. We’ll get better.”
Instead of a 7-7 tie, the Orange was down 9-6.
Not even three minutes later, Justin Yoon took a kickoff return 93 yards to the house, giving the Irish a 30-20 lead with 10:06 left in the first quarter.
Cole Murphy then ended the half with a missed 40-yard field goal, which could have cut the lead to 33-30 heading into intermission. Instead, the score stayed at 33-27, and the Orange was never able to get closer than that.
“We just had some breakdowns. And then the things you have to remember is when we play teams like Notre Dame. We have guys on scholarship and non‐scholarship guys on our special teams,” Babers said. “They have four‐star and five‐star guys on their special teams. It’s going to happen when you’re playing teams like that.”
SYRACUSE LACKS TALENT ACROSS THE BOARD
The talent disparity isn’t limited to just special teams.
While Syracuse may have some talent at certain skill positions like quarterback and wide receiver, Babers lamented the fact that his defensive secondary has been decimated by injuries and he’s playing more true freshman than he would like.
“It’s not like basketball where you get Jordan and Pippen and one more guy,” Babers said. “Everybody is looking for everybody’s weaknesses. Everybody is attacking everybody’s weaknesses. And you’re only as strong as your weakest link.”
Babers likened the talent gap to a boxer fighting with only one hand.
“As we continue to grow as a program, those weaker points will get stronger,” Babers said. “We may get a chance one day in the future, if I’m lucky enough, to come out here and fight with everything I’ve got. It will be fun.”