Item: With his usual low-key personality for a person in such a high-profile position, and citing familiar refrains of a strong belief in family both personally and professionally, Dino Babers opened up on a number of topics in a video press conference with local and national media Thursday, eager to get going on the still-to-be-determined 2020 season.
From watching players arrive back to the football facility Tuesday to begin voluntary workouts with the strength and conditioning coaches following pandemic-related campus disruptions, to finding the right moment Wednesday to present his thoughts via Twitter concerning the current national protests against racism, Babers has been sprinting behind the scenes to keep the program moving forward each week since spring practice was shut down in March.
Interestingly, there has not been a Syracuse football coach entering his fifth season on the job since Paul Pasqualoni in 1995.
That covers a long 25-year period and now four head coaches. That lack of consistency is only one of a handful of items that Orange Nation knows all to well has hampered the program from making semi-regular runs at conference titles, and dependable winning seasons and bowl appearances.
The rebuilding job hit a speed bump last season falling a victory short of bowl eligibility, but with new coordinators in place bringing unique looks to both sides of the ball in an usual logistical season ahead, recruits starting to add ACC-needed depth with more on the way, and the new and improved home field blossoming over the next three summers, there’s a lot to be cheery about.
“You just put a little fear in me, that’s hard to do,” Babers joked Thursday when we mentioned that his three predecessors did not make it past a fourth season at Manley Field House for various reasons.
But Babers is fair when addressing the state of his program that has had just one winning season in his first four years.
“I think we’re right in the middle, even though the record (23-26) doesn’t indicate that,” Babers continued. “I think we’re on the right track. I think we reloaded (roster talent and coaching staff) the correct way. We understand the bottom line is the bottom line, but I’m at peace right here (the program’s current status).”
The disruption to the spring football schedule and the start of off-season conditioning and workouts, along with mandatory stay-at-home orders that head coaches had to endure along with everyone else, would seemingly make life difficult for men like Babers who’s schedules are tuned to military precision. However, he has found a silver lining in how he will go about preparing for the unprecedented territory of the upcoming season.
“As much as I like fundamentals and discipline, this (upcoming season) is right up my alley,” Babers explained.
“I think I operate well when you have to adjust and improvise, I think I’m wired that way. I think our philosophy is maybe a little bit more flexible than some of the other teams in our conference in being able to adjust to this situation.”
The Orange will not participate in team workouts until July 23, with pre-season camp scheduled to begin August 6. The season opener is currently set for Sept. 4 at Boston College.