Syracuse Football: Dino Babers is fired, but timing of change seems odd

Syracuse football, Dino Babers (Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football, Dino Babers (Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /

SU athletic director John Wildhack on Sunday announced the dismissal of Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers, effective immediately, after ESPN’s Pete Thamel first broke the news earlier in the day.

First and foremost, I want to wish Dino Babers nothing but happiness and success in the future. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I believe that Babers is a genuinely good person, and he represented Syracuse University well with his high character.

That being said, as I wrote in late October, I did believe that there needed to be a head-coaching change at Syracuse football, although I have to say, I’m not a fan of the timing of Babers’ firing.

On Saturday night in Atlanta, the Orange’s one-dimensional offense didn’t fool Georgia Tech, as the Yellow Jackets withstood a second-half rally by the ‘Cuse to ultimately prevail, 31-22.

That unfortunate outcome dropped Syracuse football to 5-6 overall and 1-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference competition. Much like the 2022 season, the current 2023 term has proven more of the same, as in each campaign, the Orange raced out to a fast start, only to falter in a big way down the stretch.

However, why fire Syracuse football head coach Dino Babers when there’s one regular-season game left?

Here’s my issue with Babers being let go on Sunday. The ‘Cuse will host Wake Forest on Saturday, Nov. 25, in the 2023 regular-season finale. The Demon Deacons, this past Saturday, got crushed by top-20 Notre Dame, and Wake Forest will enter its ACC contest with the Orange on the Hill with an overall mark of 4-7 and a 1-6 record in league games.

While Syracuse football has not played well of late, it’s entirely possible that the ‘Cuse can defeat Wake Forest to get to 6-6 overall and reach a post-season bowl for the second year in a row. Why not give Dino Babers an opportunity to do that?

Let’s say that Syracuse football does knock off Wake Forest, and then the Orange ends up winning a bowl game. The team would finish at 7-6 overall in both 2022 and 2023, which isn’t great, but we have to keep in mind that Syracuse football hasn’t reached a bowl in consecutive seasons since 2012 and 2013.

I honestly feel bad for the players. They busted their butts on Saturday evening to come back against Georgia Tech on the road, and asking the ‘Cuse to defeat even average foes without any passing game is a tall task.

The Syracuse football 2023 roster, I believe, deserved a shot to play for Babers through the Wake Forest affair, and then also in a bowl game, if that transpired. On the flip side, I can understand if Wildhack and the rest of the SU Athletics leadership had had enough and wanted to get moving on conducting a national search to find a replacement for Babers as soon as possible.

We’ll have to monitor how this could impact the Orange’s 2024 recruiting class, as some of those commits could think twice about their ‘Cuse pledges, with Babers no longer at the helm of the program.

Dino Babers was in his eighth year as the team’s head coach. He led the Orange to two bowl games, going 1-1, and he produced two winning seasons in Central New York. Babers leaves Syracuse football with a 41–55 overall mark and a 20–45 record in league encounters.

In a press release issued by SU Athletics, Wildhack didn’t provide any specific explanation as to why the Orange was moving on from Babers. The media statement said that tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile will serve as interim head coach this coming Saturday when Syracuse football hosts Wake Forest.

The announcement added that a “national search to identify Babers’ successor is now underway.” It will be interesting to see who the next head coach of the ‘Cuse will end up being, and of course I’ll monitor that in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, a heartfelt thank you to Dino Babers for his high character and integrity. I felt that it was time for him to move on, but that doesn’t take away from who he is as a person. I hope he lands another head-coaching gig soon, and that he shines wherever that may be.

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