After Syracuse football fell in heart-breaking fashion for the second-consecutive weekend, this time to undefeated and No. 19 Wake Forest on the Hill, a lot of Orange fans took to social media to express their frustrations, and to say that head coach Dino Babers needs to go.
I totally get it. Babers made some questionable decisions against the Demon Deacons (6-0) inside the Carrier Dome this past Saturday afternoon. And it’s not the first time that ‘Cuse fans, myself included, were up in arms about the decisions and play-calling from Babers and his staff.
For me, if you think Babers should get fired because of his overall record during his tenure in Central New York, that’s absolutely fair. Save for one 10-win season, his teams have struggled, and 2020 was a disaster.
That being said, while I definitely am holding Babers and his assistants accountable for their mishaps versus Wake Forest, and other opponents, to say that Babers is solely responsible for the Orange’s 40-37 overtime setback to the Demon Deacons doesn’t add up from my perspective.
Here’s why Dino Babers isn’t the only person to blame for the latest Syracuse football defeat.
When some ‘Cuse fans trash Babers on social media, I think that’s unwarranted. When some Orange fans trash the players on social media, that’s certainly not appropriate, at least to me.
These players are young men who are busting their butts to produce wins. I get if you want to hold grown men like Babers more accountable, but I’m still not in favor of using negative words to attack them.
In the case of Syracuse football (3-3) coming up three points shy of an upset victory over Wake Forest, yes, Babers made some bad decisions.
Just before the intermission, Babers’ decision regarding a holding penalty on the Demon Deacons backfired. Instead of forcing Wake Forest into a long field-goal attempt, the Demon Deacons converted a huge third down and ultimately scored a touchdown.
About mid-way through the fourth quarter, Babers elected to kick a field goal, rather than go for it on 4th and about two yards. Andre Szmyt missed the kick, which isn’t Babers’ fault.
Syracuse football was going for the win with a two-point conversion in the game’s waning seconds, but it couldn’t get a play off, resulting in a delay of game. That’s poor clock management, no doubt.
Okay, those and several other decisions by Babers weren’t great. But … Babers didn’t miss the field goal. When the Orange went for two earlier in the game, it was his call, but he didn’t botch the attempt on the field.
The ‘Cuse had a fumble, which isn’t Babers’ miscue. The Orange defense gave up multiple long passing touchdowns, including the game-winner. That’s not Babers’ fault.
During its possession in overtime, Syracuse football had to settle for a field goal, because it couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. That’s not on Babers.
My point here is that Babers should take all kinds of blame. But not ALL of the blame. His running attack was in beast mode, quarterback Garrett Shrader was solid passing the ball, and the Orange was in a position to conquer the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
And that’s a week after losing on a last-second field goal at Florida State, where the ‘Cuse has never won. So Syracuse football is a couple of plays away from being 4-2, or perhaps 5-1.
I know. Those are hypotheticals. But after a one-win season in 2020, the Orange is 3-3 and competitive in these ACC clashes. I’m encouraged, even if many other Syracuse football fans aren’t.