All of Central New York just let out a huge sigh of relief.
Since the day he arrived on campus to take the head football coach job, Dino Babers’ tenure always seemed to have an expiration date. The date was never clear, but coming to Syracuse represented a stepping stone on Babers’ rise to stardom.
That all changed on Wednesday.
The university announced Babers will be the head football coach “for seasons to come.” Following a return to bowl competition for the first time in five years after a 9-3 season, the contract extension is well-deserved.
The devil is in the details. The specifics on the extension are scarce right now. As it has already been pointed out, the details will dictate just how great a move this was for Syracuse.
You have to hope that the Babers extension comes with a huge buyout that would be a poison pill to any college with deeper pockets than SU. Terms of the extension were not disclosed. Either way this is fantastic news for Syracuse!
— SUJuice.com (@TheJuiceOnline) December 12, 2018
The hope has to be that this will ward off potential suitors hoping to lure Babers away from ‘Cuse. Babers was only halfway through his initial six-year contract with the university. This move is purely to dissuade other programs from targeting him.
Still, I cannot stress how important a move this is for the program. Even when the Orange finished 4-8 in 2017, Babers was linked to Florida and Baylor. Without question, this move provides stability to a program desperately seeking it for the past 15 years.
Looking back, Paul Pasqualoni’s tenure finally ended in 2004 after 14 impressive seasons. However, his final three years featured less than stellar results. Following his departure, Greg Robinson had three awful seasons. Then Doug Marrone cobbled together a .500 record, with a pair of bowl victories. He bolted for the NFL though in 2012. Scott Shafer capitalized on what was left from Marrone’s program with a win in the Texas Bowl, but then crashed and burned for three seasons.
When evaluating Babers compared to his predecessors, the past two seasons should barely count. It takes two years, at least, to turn a program around. Babers is no exception as he found success in his third year. Time is required for the scheme to take hold, the coach to get his players into the program and the team to forge an identity. None of Syracuse’s previous three coaches lasted more than four years. As a result, the program constantly changed schemes, identities and personnel.
Even if the Orange take a step back next year, the stability this move provides out weighs all of that. There is no added pressure that comes with this move to succeed next season. If anything, it likely takes some pressure off for the 2019 season. While it would be great to be in position to pick up double-digit wins next season, the offense will feature a number of new starters at key positions. While Tommy Devito flashed potential, the offense will need to adjust to having a pass-first quarterback under center. Matching Eric Dungey’s production will be very hard to do.
In addition to being a great move for Syracuse, it gives us a window into the motivations of Babers as a coach. He likely could have left the Orange for the bright lights of the Big 12 or the storied programs of the SEC, but instead chose to build something in Syracuse.
This does not mean Babers is suddenly going to become Jim Boeheim and stay with the school until the end of time.(I’m pretty sure that was the latest negotiation with the basketball team.) Babers may stay another three or four years before moving to a bigger program. Maybe he will want to finish out his career at his alma mater Hawaii. His distant future is still unclear.
In truth, it does not matter, because his immediate future is crystal clear. Three more years would give him time to accomplish something special with the Orange and create a winning culture this team has lacked for well over a decade. Not to mention a chance to deliver more iconic postgame speeches. Until they tell me otherwise, in Dino we trust.