Item: When preseason practice gets underway Friday for the 2019 Syracuse football team, it will not only mark the fourth year of Dino Baber’s tenure, it will also be the first season in which he has set the program up for expected success.
It doesn’t seem like three and a half plus years since Dino Babers was introduced by then-athletic director Mark Coyle, Dec. 7, 2015, with his “belief without evidence” sermon. After learning on the job just how fast and physical the ACC caliber of football is played, he has quickly fielded the level of talent necessary to win among balanced competition with a unique style of play on both sides of the ball, and some of the best special teams units in the nation.
“When you play in the ACC, especially in the ACC Atlantic with (the six other teams in the division), you have to be able to handle the physical part of it,” Babers pointed out at the ACC Media Kickoff event in mid-July in Charlotte. “So many times (Babers mentioned this to other coaches during the ‘Kickoff’) the team that is the healthiest in November, normally has the edge to win the football game.”
“And the way you stay healthy is being lucky…and being strong and physical,” Babers continued. “We’re working on the two parts we can control, and hope we get the edge on the third part (lucky) by grace.”
The ball has been bouncing Syracuse’s way for the most part, notwithstanding the aforementioned November injury bug striking Eric Dungey nine months ago against College Football Playoff semifinalist Notre Dame. ‘Cuse fans have certainly responded to winning football, speaking loudest with their disposal income dollars to the tune of nearly 7,000 new season ticket packages for ’19.
“It’s big for the community. I think they love their football, and they love their basketball, and they love their lacrosse. They want to have it all. I think a lot of fans want to have it all,” Babers said when asked about the importance of returning SU to being a “football school” with the consistency of challenging for conference titles and New Year’s Day Six-level bowl appearances.
“We’re going to try and give it to them,” he continued. “It’s difficult, especially when you talk about football in the ACC Atlantic. But we have a chance. And if we have a chance we’re going to go out there and play our odds and see how it goes.”
The odds going into the season are that Syracuse is going to win enough games to return to a bowl game, it’s a matter of whether that turns out to be a season that’s Top 10-15 worthy and
mark the subsequent improvement in year four of the masterful Babers program rebuild.
“I think sometimes the bottom half of the ACC, and the ACC Atlantic, doesn’t get maybe the kudos it should get,” Babers reasoned. “(Certainly) based off how we perform in the bowl season against schools from other conferences (19-14 in Babers three seasons at SU).”