Orange Watch: Syracuse football’s retention of Dino Babers bucks trend

Babers
Syracuse Orange head coach Dino Babers (C) looks on prior to leading his team on the field at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Item: In the ever-changing landscape of college football coaching, and in a “what have you done lately” societal environment, the only consistent element is change, especially in the ACC.

Tuesday (Dec. 7) marked the sixth anniversary of Dino Babers introductory press conference, his hiring replacing Scott Shafer announced at the podium by both the late great Floyd Little, and former athletic director Mark Coyle.

The accompanying speech came with a lot of fire and brimstone, Babers insisting that the media and attendees on hand close their collective eyes and visual to these words:

“You’re in the Carrier Dome. The house is filled. The feeling is electric. The noise is deafening. You have a defense that is relentless. You have a special teams that has been well coached. You have an offense that will not huddle. And you have a game that’s faster than you’ve ever seen on turf. Open your eyes. That’s going to be a reality. That’s going to be Syracuse football.”

Forward to this past season and the program still struggled to get fans to turn out, averaging an announced 32,460 for seven home games, or a figure that could turn out to be less than the Duke basketball game crowd on February 26.

The defense was at times relentless, finishing sixth overall in the ACC. Special teams were a disaster, dead last in field goals and punting (third in kickoffs). The offense huddled plenty, remember the unit couldn’t get the right players on the field to attempt a potential winning two-point conversion attempt against Wake Forest.

Other than and the swiftness of first team all-conference selection Sean Tucker, there was not a lot of speed, especially in the passing game under Garrett Shrader and his receivers, the offense finishing 10th overall in league play.

The reality was the fifth non-bowl season in Babers six years.

In doing some research from Babers first season, we found a fascinating article that Athlon Sports wrote ranking the ACC coaches heading into the 2016 campaign. It is eye opening for how much change there has been in that five-year period, with only six league coaches still occupying that same job. Duke still needs to name a new head coach, on Monday Miami named Oregon’s Mario Cristobal to replace Manny Diaz as its new coach after Diaz lasted just three seasons, and Clemson assistant Tony Elliott is slated to replace the retiring Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia after the team’s bowl game.

There’s also the huge ironic twist that the 2016 coach ranked 14 of 14, Dave Clawson, was just named the ACC coach of the year leading Wake Forest to the ACC title game, and signing a lucrative, long term contract extension. Same for the No. 9 coach Pat Narduzzi, having taken Pitt to the league championship in building the program back up in seven years.

» Related: Former Syracuse captain Brendan Carney agrees with decision to retain Dino Babers

Below is the 2016 Athlon list. What’s also interesting to ponder is where Babers would rank in the current ACC lineup?

School/Athlon Coach Ranking 2016 Coach  Present Coach
Florida State (1) Jimbo Fisher Mike Norvell
Clemson (2) Dabo Swinney Dabo Swinney
Louisville (3) Bobby Petrino Scott Satterfield
Duke (4) David Cutcliffe To Be Determined
Miami (5) Mark Richt Mario Cristolbal
Virginia Tech (6) Justin Fuente Brent Pry
North Carolina (7) Larry Fedora Mack Brown
Georgia Tech (8) Paul Johnson Geoff Collins
Pittsburgh (9) Pat Narduzzi Pat Narduzzi
Virginia (10) Bronco Mendenhall Bronco Mendenhall
Syracuse (11) Dino Babers Dino Babers
Boston College (12) Steve Addazio Jeff Hafley 
North Carolina State (13) Dave Doeren Dave Doeren
Wake Forest (14) Dave Clawson Dave Clawson

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About Brad Bierman 843 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.