Well, it appears Syracuse has made it through the first scary stretch of having Dino Babers as its head coach. That is not a wisecrack in any way about Babers’ first season at the helm.
It is not a joke about the defense that gave up 45 or more points six times, all of which were losses.
It is not an elbow to the ribs about a coach who employs a high-powered offensive scheme presiding over a rushing attack that did not average even four yards per carry in any single game until the season finale.
It is not a smart remark about giving up 76 points in that same season finale (blah, blah basketball, blah).
It is a joke about Babers not getting hired away after his first season in Orange. Actually, it is more of the verbal equivalent of a sarcastic barb, complete with eye-roll.
And there is more sarcasm to come.
A segment of the Syracuse fanbase was concerned about Babers getting hired away by a bigger football program, particularly a couple that run similar offenses – Oregon and Baylor, the latter a former employer where he became an acolyte of the pedal-to-the-metal offensive scheme his teams have run.
That’s right, the coach of a 4-8 team that finished 120th of 128 FBS teams in points allowed per game and 115th in rushing yards per game was such a hot commodity, two of the highest-profile open jobs had him in mind as a candidate.
There was some of that sarcasm I mentioned above.
Various theories were in support, ranging from the tangible (more money at other universities, which has been backed by reports of what those two schools are spending on their respective new coaches) to rumors claiming to know the inner workings of Babers’ brain.
Is there normally a line of annually-ranked FBS programs looking to hire guys who hang 4-8 records at FBS schools? In case you had not noticed, Oregon created their job opening by canning a coach who went 4-8.
That record, just written on a post-it, would seem to deter athletic directors of that ilk, especially since Babers never had a record close to that previously and said athletic director would also have to explain hiring him.
Stop and think about the following scenario. Would you, a Syracuse fan, have been excited a year ago if they hired a coach who had two good years at an FCS school, two good years at very low FBS school, and a 4-8 season at a MAC school?
That is pretty much the equivalent of a higher-level FBS school hiring Babers right now. Also, any FBS school fitting that description would have to explain to a much more rabid fan base why the guy coming off a 4-8 season in the highest level of football he has coached is the right one to steer that powerhouse.
Is the Syracuse football coaching job a top-of-the-line model? No, but the program has recently done several things in an attempt to get better.
Nah, let’s just ignore the new practice facility, the announced renovations to the Carrier Dome, the changes to the season ticket pricing, and so on. Oh, and don’t forget to rush to judgment on the capabilities an athletic director who has barley been on the job for four months.
There’s some more of that sarcasm.
Babers’ resume is peppered with short stops. Clearly, he’s a vagabond, not long for town before heading off to the next job.
It is absolutely true that Babers is now in his 15th coaching stop.
Sometimes, a head coach and his entire coaching staff leaves, like when Wayne Nunnely was fired at UNLV and Babers was his special teams and running backs coach. Or when Scott Shafer was relieved of his future coaching commitment by Syracuse with over a whole season remaining on his contract.
Dick Tomey resigned after 14 seasons at Arizona, nine of them a winning seasons. Babers was on his staff for six years, including being an offensive coordinator when the Wildcats went 12-1. But, when Tomey stepped down, Babers was out of a job, too.
Syracuse fans most likely do not know that Karl Dorrell was canned at UCLA following the 2007 season. Of course, without that firing, Babers possibly never goes to Baylor and learns the offensive system he now teaches.
There have absolutely been times when Babers moved on to move up, like from the wide receivers coach at San Diego State to wide receivers coach at Arizona. Or from special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Baylor to head coach at Eastern Illinois. Or from that FCS job to an FBS head coaching job at Bowling Green. Or from there to Syracuse.
But, it’s not like Babers cannot handle being the in same geographic area for more than nine months.
And, yes, many moves were when Babers chose a higher level of competition. And jumping from Syracuse to Baylor or Oregon would have done that and come with better facilities and higher pay, whether it be an almost new stadium in Waco or the exorbitant facilities provided by Nike chairman emeritus Phil Knight in Eugene.
But, again, 4-8. 120th of 128 in defense. 115th of 128 in rushing offense.
Baylor, who has four top-13 finishes in the last six seasons and wants to get back there quickly, would have to explain hiring a coach who posted those anemic numbers. Before this season, Oregon rolled up nine consecutive seasons of at least nine wins and finished in the top four of the final polls four times. Yet, they would have to explain why a different coach who went 4-8 wowed them.
I think they have greater standards to live up to.
Sorry to that segment of the fanbase. Babers was never going anywhere, regardless of what you may have heard.