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Syracuse Promotes Shafer to Head Coach: Did Darryl Gross Act Too Soon?

So our man Darius Kelly lets the cat out of the bag, and now the world knows Scott Shafer will assume the head coaching position at Syracuse. I’m glad the program has a guy like Kelly in the fray. Just means we’ll be getting some honesty around these parts. Ask a question, get an answer. I like that.

I also like Shafer quickly being promoted to Doug Marrone’s position. On New Year’s Day I suggested elevating Shafer to that spot when word first leaked about Marrone’s NFL interest being serious. Two days ago, I once again hammered home the necessity in making a swift decision to help stabilize recruiting.

Here’s why this has a good chance of working: Scott has A) success at Syracuse B) success at a bigger program C) respect of incoming recruits. These are the three most important dynamics Shafer brings to the table. His assistance in the defense developing from one of the worst in the country to a strength of the team shows he has tangible coaching qualities. His time at Stanford gives him perspective on where SU should be trying to ascend to. And most of the Orange commits have said as long as one of the assistants takes over the job, they’re not going anywhere.

Are there possible pitfalls as well? Of course. First, Shafer seems to view his media availability as a chore. We are not always happy, sunny people to have to deal with. However, coaching a college program is also being a salesman. You are marketing to recruits, players, fans and donors. Messages about your program and how the school is perceived is disseminated by the media. You need to be able to deal, especially as an unproven head coach. Marrone wasn’t Chris Rock, but he also professionally handled his media responsibilities, and his straight forward demeanor came through in pressers. Shafer needs to learn this technique. A common refrain you hear from Shafer’s critics is he lacks charisma.

You also have to hope Darryl Gross did his due diligence and interviewed other candidates. While Shafer may be the best man for the job, Orange Nation needs to hope he didn’t freak out and just stay as safe as possible. You can almost envision Gross huddled in a corner of his office when he heard Doug was leaving, muttering “It’s going to be okay. Scott can take over right? Yeah, I like Scott. He’s a good coach…” Let’s hope he reached out to some worthy candidates before pulling the trigger.

Who takes over the defensive reigns? How about Tim Daoust? Two years ago The Fizz profiled the interesting hire of Tim, assuming he might be groomed to take over the D if Shafer ever left for the NFL or a bigger school. Now it seems like maybe Marrone had a succession plan in place for awhile. Doug may have told Shafer he would be the next guy, and Shafer was responsible for finding his own replacement. There’s an awful lot of similarities between Shafer and Daoust.

There were hot young candidates out there like Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson who some believe would’ve been a much better hire. But ultimately it’s hard to disagree with SU’s decision to try and build off Marrone’s success, and keep as much continuity as possible.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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