Syracuse Football: Why Fran Brown's elite recruiting bodes well for SU on-field play

A national writer discusses why head coach Fran Brown's elite recruiting should bode well for Syracuse football on the field.
A national writer discusses why head coach Fran Brown's elite recruiting should bode well for Syracuse football on the field. / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Since early December, when SU Athletics officially introduced Fran Brown as the new head coach of Syracuse football, Brown has undeniably backed up his reputation as one of the sport's top recruiters.

In fact, back in February, Brown was tabbed by 247Sports as its national recruiter of the year for the 2024 cycle.

To be fair, Brown's recruiting prowess in recent months isn't just a one-man show. He's assembled a top-notch staff around him, and the Orange's recruiting results of late are by some accounts unprecedented in recent Syracuse football program history.

Per the industry-generated 247Sports Composite, at the time of this writing, the team's 2024 class is No. 38 nationally at the high school level and No. 25 via the transfer portal. By extension, the Orange's 2025 cycle is No. 9 nationwide, while its three-member 2026 class is currently No. 3 around the country, per the 247Sports Composite.

The buzz is palpable surrounding the Syracuse football program in Central New York and elsewhere. Last month's annual spring game was exciting. Yet an ongoing, and understandable, topic among some 'Cuse fans is how will Brown, a first-year and a first-time head coach, fare in the upcoming 2024 season and beyond.

One national writer recently addressed this topic.

Syracuse football head coach Fran Brown, most recently, was the defensive backs coach at Georgia.

A few days ago, Will Backus of CBS Sports put out an interesting piece that included a discussion on Brown and other new head coaches in college football this off-season.

Backus, as he noted in a post on his X page, "dove into some data on recent coaching hires and pulled out some trends that could set the tone for 2024’s new crop of coaches."

At the onset, Backus said that when power-conference athletic directors are eyeing a new head coach, they can "take a swing" by hiring a promising assistant coach or a head coach from a lower-level league, or they can attempt to bring in someone who is, say, an existing head coach in one of the four major conferences of the ACC, the Big 12, the Big Ten or the SEC.

Backus went on to cite examples from the 2021-22 cycle while then providing context on the latest 2023-24 head-coaching carousel. He added that in the latest cycle, there was a sizable amount of what he calls "upside swings" - that is, hiring an assistant coach or a lower-level head coach to become the head coach of a power-conference squad.

Brown, naturally, falls into this "upside swings" category. Interestingly enough, since 2022, Backus notes that the winning percentages of "upside swings" head coaches (55.5 percent) and "power conference-to-power conference" head coaches (55.7 percent) are nearly identical.

Backus then writes, "Recruiters win: Turns out, talent acquisition is very important when it comes to winning in college football. It's certainly one of the primary factors that programs should consider when hiring a new coach, especially if they're targeting assistants."

He cites a couple of examples, including the recent success of Oregon head coach Dan Lanning, who was previously the outside linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at Georgia, and Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire, who was formerly the associate head coach at Baylor and also held stints as the Bears' tight ends coach, defensive ends coach and outside linebackers coach.

With that as a backdrop, Backus brings Brown into the discussion, writing that the recent success of top-flight recruiters such as Lanning and McGuire "bodes well for Syracuse and Fran Brown. Though he's never been a coordinator at the power conference level, his recruiting bona fides are arguably more impressive than any other hire during the 2023-24 cycle. He was named 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year in 2024 after netting two five-stars and five top-100 prospects for Georgia's top-rated recruiting class. His impact is already being felt at Syracuse as the Orange boast an impressive 17-player transfer class headlined by former Ohio State starting quarterback Kyle McCord."

Only time will tell how Brown, his staff and his players perform in actual games. Brown's first test, so to speak, will come in the Syracuse football 2024 season opener, at home, against Ohio on Saturday, Aug. 31.

As I've said on countless occasions since Brown officially took over the 'Cuse program, recruiting wins are wonderful, but wins on the field are all that ultimately matter. Do I think that Brown is going to succeed as a head coach? I do.

We'll know more in the coming months.

Next. Syracuse Football: In ACC quarterback rankings, 4-star Kyle McCord is far too low. Syracuse Football: In ACC quarterback rankings, 4-star Kyle McCord is far too low. dark