Everything seemed fine until the Orange lost its offensive coordinator.
There hasn’t been a lot of need for panic in Orange Nation. Doug Marrone’s name came up for NFL jobs, but he’s still a few years away from being offered a head coaching gig right? Ebenezer Ogundeko liked Syracuse, but he was always leaning toward Clemson right? Marrone leaves for the Bills, but he would never pluck from SU’s coaching staff right?
The news that Nathaniel Hackett will take the offensive coordinator’s job in Buffalo is the first reason for serious concern. It’s not that he’s Bill Walsh incarnate, or even that his offense was above reproach. Before this season many thought Hackett was a hack, a man with no plan, and an ever revolving number of schemes and boring play-calls. Heck, even this year we saw the attack totally stall and lose the Orange a game all by itself on a fall night in Minnesota.
But even promoting Scott Shafer to head coach quickly doesn’t erase losing Hackett and another piece of stability for this program. Hackett’s replaceable. But SU could be the victim of a thousand paper cuts. The more instability and unfamiliarity created, the fewer recruits want to remain committed, and the shallower the talent pool gets. The thinning talent becomes problematic in the bigger, stronger, faster ACC and the program starts fighting to remain competitive. And all the momentum built over the last four years – from a standstill in ’08 – is lost and takes an effort to jump start.
This is, of course, worst case scenario. Sounds like most recruits are encouraged that Shafer got the gig. But strong SU commit Gus Edwards is now taking visits to FSU and Miami? The above reproach Zach Allen admitted he was worried after Marrone left, but reiterated his decision to come to SU. But there’s plenty still up in the air with commitments. Will the Marrone/Hackett defections lead to a gutted recruiting class without some of the top names we assumed?
Maybe this is just the dust settling. This could be the natural uneasiness that occurs in the few days following a move like Marrone. For four days I’ve convinced myself there wasn’t much to worry about. SU would continue with Shafer and the rest of the staff, the beat would go on. But now that Hackett is leaving too, I’m starting to grind my teeth.
Let’s see who the Orange tab to replace Hackett. I wouldn’t mind seeing David Walker, a Rochester native and Syracuse alum, who’s now an assistant on the Colts staff get the gig. And the John Anselmo/Tyrone Wheatley combination is going to have to work harder than ever before to keep these commitments in tact. But this is a case of agita Syracuse fans didn’t see coming.