Syracuse Football: Lack of late-season success big factor in Babers firing

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

Syracuse University athletic director John Wildhack said the lack of success by Syracuse football late in recent seasons was a factor in why Dino Babers was dismissed this past Sunday.

Wildhack, who recently discussed the Syracuse football program at a press conference with media members, said that the benchmark for the ‘Cuse in the current 2023 term was 7-5.

The Orange sits at 5-6 overall after losing last Saturday night at Georgia Tech. The ‘Cuse will host Wake Forest in the 2023 regular-season finale this Saturday afternoon, with tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile serving as the Orange’s interim head coach in that Atlantic Coast Conference contest.

If Syracuse football can knock off the Demon Deacons, the Orange will attain bowl eligibility for the second year in a row. However, the “best” record that the ‘Cuse can collect in 2023 would be 7-6, which was where the Orange finished a stanza ago.

The issue, though, is that in 2022, Syracuse football started out 6-0 and was ranked in the top 15 of the major polls.

In 2023, the Orange began this campaign at 4-0, and the ‘Cuse faltering in the second half of both seasons was a factor in why SU Athletics fired Babers, who went 41–55 overall in nearly eight full seasons as the squad’s head coach.

SU athletic director John Wildhack discusses Syracuse football and its next head coach.

At his press briefing, Wildhack said in part, “I’ve evaluated the program at a consistent basis. To me, one of the things it really boils down to is November. We’ve not had the success in November.”

A national search is underway to find a replacement for Babers, and some pundits have already begun to float some names out there as possible candidates for the Orange’s head-coaching gig.

Wildhack said that the next head coach has to be an excellent leader and communicator, and someone who excels at developing players at the collegiate level.

"He added, “Most Power-Five schools, we’re developmental schools. Who has that eye for talent? Who can develop that talent. Someone who can communicate and build a staff, not only of assistants, but support staff as well.”"

The Syracuse University athletic director said that, despite the program looking for a new head coach, he doesn’t believe that the Orange is in a “total rebuild.”

To me, that remains to be seen. Already, reports have surfaced about some Syracuse football players planning to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal, and I expect more of that to occur in the near future.

What’s more, we’ll have to see what’s to become of the current Orange coaching staff beyond Babers. I do hope that the ‘Cuse can rally this Saturday and defeat Wake Forest, as getting to a bowl game for a second straight term would be a positive thing to focus on heading into the off-season.

I think that Syracuse football has some encouraging signs as it pertains to its facilities, and Wildhack has spoken positively about NIL opportunities on the Hill of late.

A lot of my fellow Orange fans are skeptical about NIL in Central New York, and I get it. But a new collective did launch in September with some ambitious goals, and let’s give Orange United some time before making any grand declarations one way or another.

Just like Wildhack said at his press conference, Dino Babers is a classy human being who represented SU well. His teams simply couldn’t get it done in the latter half of recent seasons, and Wildhack felt it was time for a change.

Reluctantly, I did, too. That being said, I’m not super optimistic that a change in head coaches is going to magically carry Syracuse football to the upper tier of the ACC’s pecking order.

Next. Problems for Syracuse football, amid head-coaching change, ‘run deep’. dark