Then and Now Part 1: The Situation |

Then and Now Part 1: The Situation


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
(I was without my computer much of January and am now catching up on some things I would have done then.)

This is my annual series of posts comparing what I said about SU football in my preview, which was done in August, to what subsequently transpired and the way I see things now. The parts in italics are quotes from the preview.

The Situation

I very much doubt that Syracuse would be a candidate for a super conference. Maybe when this century began and the football team was in a streak of 15 straight winning seasons while the basketball team was contending for national titles we might have made it. We’re the 99th most successful team in college football since then: I-A Winning Percentage 2000-2021
The men’s basketball and lacrosse programs have declined. Last year was the first that all three teams had losing record in the school’s history. So the rapture decision won’t even be our choice. But I don’t know why we’d want to be in a super-conference when we’ve had the worst record in the ACC for football since we joined it:
Clemson 66-8, U of Miami 45-28, Florida State 43-29, Pittsburgh 44-31, Virginia Tech 45-33, North Carolina 37-37, Louisville 33-33, North Carolina State 34-40, Georgia Tech 32-41, Boston College 29-45, Virginia 28-45, Wake Forest 28-45, Duke 26-48, Syracuse 22-52 (Notre Dame 9-1, Maryland 3-5)
Imagine if we were in an eastern division of a Big 10 Super Conference with Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and maybe Clemson and North Carolina. We’d be road kill. What would happen to our fan base if we regularly got beat by 4-5 touchdowns?

End of season update, with corrections: Clemson 73-8, Florida State 48-32, U of Miami 48-33, Pittsburgh 48-34, Virginia Tech 42-39, North Carolina 43-39, Louisville 37-37, North Carolina State 38-44,
Georgia Tech 36-45, Virginia 29-51, Wake Forest 31-48, Boston College 31-51, Duke 31-51, Syracuse 26-56. My opinion on SU’s likelihood of making one of two super-conferences or being successful there has not changed.

Dino has revamped his staff, bringing in Tony White as defensive coordinator: in his second year last year we had the third best defense in the conference until a bad November dropped us to 6th. He brought in Mike Schmidt, (no, not that one), to be the offensive line coach and running game coordinator and Sean Tucker set the schools’ single-season rushing record. Now, with the retirement of Virginia, (and former BYU) head coach Broncho Mendenhall, offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterback coach Jason Beck became available and agreed to come to Syracuse.

He's having to revamp his staff again, as it basically came flying apart after the season ended. Within a few weeks, Dino has lost defensive coordinator Tony White, offensive coordinator Robert Anae, safeties coach Nick Monroe, offensive line coach Mike Schmidt, offensive analyst Micah Simon and Director of High School Recruiting Khalil Ahmad. All except Monroe were lateral moves, except more money was likely involved. Anae’s longtime associate, Jason Beck was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace him. Monroe had been the interim defensive coordinator when the highly regarded White left for Nebraska but was not given the job permanently because the originator of the 3-3-5 defense, 72-year-old Rocky Long had agreed to come here to replace his protégé, White. Dino called him “Yoda”.

Babers also brought in Steve Farmer to replace Schmidt and Nunzio Campanile as tight ends coach. “Farmer joins Syracuse for what will be his 25th season of collegiate coaching, including nine seasons as an offensive coordinator. He spent the past year at Tulsa, working with the offensive line for the Golden Hurricane, after prior stops at Texas Tech, Utah State, Louisiana Monroe, Illinois State, Eastern Michigan and Eastern Illinois… In his first season at Tulsa, his unit blocked for a passing attack that finished in the top-25 nationally in passing offense, throwing for 273.2 yards per game, an improvement over finishing 53rd in the category the year prior to his arrival. Tulsa put up 412 yards of total offense per game and averaged over 30 points per game in 2022.” He’s supposed to have experience recruiting Florida. “Campanile joins the Orange after spending the past five seasons at Rutgers, serving in numerous roles including interim stints as head coach and offensive coordinator, but spent most of his time dedicated to the tight ends room. A Paramus Catholic graduate with strong ties across New Jersey, Campanile was an accomplished high school coach before joining the Scarlet Knights, with stints at national powerhouses Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep.” His contacts with New Jersey high schools will be very valuable. Dino also got a cornerbacks coach from Nebraska, Travis Fisher. So the beat goes on. Will the new guys be as good as the old guys? Better? Stay tuned….

I think we’ll be better than last year, when we went 5-7, (after being 5-3), but I don’t know if our record will reflect it. Playing our schedule will be like chewing rocks. We’ve got the usual 8 ACC games, (see paragraph #5, above), and it’s our turn to play Notre Dame, who beat our beloved 2018 team 3-36. We also must play Purdue, who went 9-4 last year. The only two opponents we probably won’t break our teeth on are a home game with FCS Wagner, (why is Wagner in FCS? They won the DIII title in 1987!), and Connecticut, who has been drifting aimlessly since the Big East days, (ten straight losing seasons: 31-90, including 1-11 last year). So we have to beat those two teams and find at least four other teams we can beat.

So that’s what Coaches Baber, Anae, Becker, Schmidt and White are working on as we speak. I hope they are successful for themselves, the players, the fans, the donors and the recruits. What I don’t want to do is erase the whole staff and much of the roster with a firing and start all over again with someone else who has to start piling his own bricks. We’ve done too much of that in this century and it hasn’t produced the results we needed.

We were better, finishing 7-6 and winding up back in the Pinstripe Bowl. What made that disappointing was that we started 6-0 and obtained a #14 national ranking. Then came the rocks to chew. Five straight losses: at Clemson, at home to Notre Dame, at Pittsburgh, home vs. Florida State and at Wake Forest. Pittsburgh and Wake Forest had played for the 2021 conference title. Notre Dame, after a bad start and Florida State after some bad years, were playing like you expect Notre Dame and Florida State to play. And Clemson was Clemson, even if they fell short of national championship contention. Only Florida State was a blow-out but we came up short in each game, largely because we couldn’t stop the and our own passing game faded like a poinsettia in February. It didn’t help that we kept shedding key players to injuries all season, the most important of which was to Garrett Shrader, our quarterback, who was absent or sub-par for every game of the losing streak. We rallied to beat Boston College in the final game and fairly dominated Minnesota in the bowl game, (477 yards to 215), but lost to big plays: a pick six and a long kickoff return. It was a good season, not a great one. But we needed a good season.

Babers still has his job but doesn’t have an extension, (that we know of: SU, as a private school, doesn’t have to say). It’s clear he needs another winner badly to keep this thing going and avoid going back to square one again.

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