Syracuse’s Coaching Carousel: Lester Saves Wilson, Is McDonald a Coup?

New OC George McDonald could be the prize jewel in the middle of this carnage.

In October, we asked how Syracuse football might tinker with its coaching staff following the season. The Orange was 2-4 at that point, and then went on a run, winning 6 of its final 7 games. A coaching staff that was then under fire subsequently regrouped, and led the team to a 38-14 thrashing of West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Soon after, the staff was torn apart by Doug Marrone, who moved on to the NFL to coach the Bills. He took with him Offensive Coordinator Nate Hackett, Running Backs Coach Tyrone Wheatley, Offensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Greg Adkins, and Defensive Backs Coach Donnie Henderson.

The main dilemma The Fizz raised in October was what to do about the struggling Orange special teams early in the season. After the firing of Bob Casullo, the Orange coached its special teams by committee, until Marrone personally took over as the special teams coach this past season.

But this has evolved far past a special teams issue. New SU Head Coach Scott Shafer has to completely rebuild his staff following the defection of at least five coaches.

  • Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bullough coached in Shafer’s defense at Western Michigan. He’s since been with UCLA and the Cleveland Browns. Most importantly, he matches Shafer’s hard-nosed-ness.
  • Quarterbacks Coach Tim Lester left his head coaching post at a D-III school in Illinois to come to Central New York. He coached the QBs at Western Michigan when Shafer was there. He’s already paying dividends. QB recruit Austin Wilson tweeted, “Feel a lot better now that I finally got to talk with my new QB coach! We’re gonna do big things #believeit #cuse”
  • New Offensive Coordinator George McDonald is an absolute dynamite hire. He’s a considered one of the top recruiters in the nation and should bring the same youthful energy to the offense that Hackett did. McDonald, 36, is another former Western Michigan guy. But more recently, he served as the wide receivers coach at Miami, and has extensive experience recruiting down south, especially in Florida. That’s key as SU moves to the ACC. Shafer was able to pry McDonald away from Arkansas, where he just accepted an offer to become the receivers coach. To grab a hot, up and coming assistant from the SEC could be a huge coup for SU. The Orange needed a dynamic personality on the staff, someone to convince the offensive recruits they’d be in good hands. McDonald may just be that guy. This could be the best news from the carnage of Marrone gutting the staff. Quarterback John O’Korn was waiting to see who the OC hire was before making an official visit to SU. One has to imagine with a hire like this J.O’K will be coming to CNY.

So where do the new hires leave the Orange coaching staff? Let’s break it down. Remember, by rule, NCAA member programs are permitted one head coach, and nine assistants (excluding a strength and conditioning coach). Here is the current SU coaching staff, with the old crew in parentheses, and the new additions italicized.

Head Coach: Scott Shafer (Marrone)

Defensive Coordinator: 1) Chuck Bullough (Shafer)
Defensive Line: 2) Tim Daoust
Linebackers: 3) Steve Morrison
Defensive Backs: __________ (Henderson)
Special Teams: __________ (Marrone)
Offensive Line: 4) George McDonald (Hackett)
Quarterbacks: 5) Tim Lester (Hackett)
Offensive Line: __________ (Adkins)
Running Backs: __________ (Wheatley)
Wide Receivers: 6) Rob Moore
Assistant Head Coach: 7) John Anselmo?

Shafer’s Western Michigan buddies Daoust and Morrison are expected to stay aboard. Reports have indicated Moore will remain the wide receivers coach. No one really knows what Anselmo will do. He’s not attached to Marrone like Henderson or Adkins, but isn’t necessarily attached to Syracuse like Moore.

But then again, if not SU, where would Anselmo go? There are some who think he’s headed to Buffalo with Marrone. The Fizz established in October that Anselmo recruits the New York City area well, but may not be thought of very highly as an Xs and Os coach or a teacher around the nation. How many D-I schools are pining for a guy who recruits the Big Apple, but doesn’t provide much value otherwise? Does Anselmo want to stay, and would Shafer want to keep him? The answer to both of those questions could be yes, but we don’t yet know for sure.

If Anselmo stays, he could potentially assist on special teams and with the defensive backs, two areas he’s aided in the past. He’d likely have to be assigned to one of those areas if he remained on staff, because in that scenario Shafer could only hire two additional assistants.

Ideally, Shafer will hire both an offensive line coach and a running backs coach. There’s already a ton of continuity on defense, with Shafer returning, armed with more of his crew from Western Michigan. Another defensive assistant may not be necessary.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the top four offensive coaches from last year’s squad are gone, in Marrone, Hackett, Adkins, and Wheatley. Shafer will be a defensive-minded head coach, so it would make sense for him to go heavier with offensive assistants to help out his young offensive coordinator.

As for Shafer philosophy on a special teams coach:

“I’ve been around staffs where we divvied up the special teams and won a championship. I’ve been around other staffs where one guy did it and we had success. And I’ve been on a lot of staffs where it was kind of somewhere between those two extremes. We’ll figure out what fits best.”

If Anselmo leaves, perhaps Shafer can hire a full-time special teams coach. If Anselmo stays, the NCAA-mandated numbers game would probably force SU to split its special teams coaching duties between multiple coaches.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent weeks, all this could change in an instant.

Posted: Andrew Kanell

40 Comments on this Post

  1. Can we afford David Walker?

  2. Gee DA I feel a little remorse from you on dougie-about time-where have ya been?? TY!!! Anselmo is the key. NYC contacts!! Where?? SU has lost the #1 talent from that area for 3/4 years. Show me the quality there. His coaching is suspect too!! If he gets Smith here it might save his job. You gotta wonder how Moore feels about dougie leaving?? He didn’t go with dougie wonder why?? Oh yeah the media won’t check on that not tasty enough!!! There is going to have to be some combo coaches no doubt!! But HCSS needs to be single minded on OL and RB. Wheatley going ripped the heart out of the running game. He’s College good coach, but I really wonder if he’s NFL good coach?? Boys on one hand and supposed men in the other. PS his kid is a player to.

  3. orangeinva

    Good article/breakdown of the coaching situation, AK!!

    WE definitely need an OLINE and RB coach..2 positions..which fills out the dance card. Which would leave DBs and Special Teams high and dry.

    How successful has Anselmo been in recruiting?? I know he helped with Tiller a few years back. How about Wayne Williams…who was responsible for his coming to CUSE? We didn’t get Ishaq or EO lately..but have gotten Morgan Reddish and Edwards. What was Anselmo’s roll in thir recruiting?

    We really need a DB coach. Henderson was good but gone now. If it were up to me, I’d lean toward letting Anselmo go, especially if there were a DB coach available or someone who played it on the pro level and is looking to get into coaching.

  4. Someone must face the facts as they are. After the shock of losing a coach thats brought the football program back from the Robinson era horror Marrone was admired and given credit. He deserved the credit for bringing in coaches that were the real reasons that Syracuse thrived relatively speaking. just as real and true is that.
    Marrone was a dull motivator and given to forget why he was there as head coach. In the long run Shafer and his staff will exceed Marrone and his accomplishments. ABCS bowl will be coming far sooner than possible with Marrone. Of course we still have the Daryll Gross anchor dragging behind us making the job more difficult as he ties up his payroll and inducing raids on the program.Success breeds raids.

  5. Yes orangeinva SU got your mentioned talent, but the cream of the crop-no!!! I’m not sure how Anselmo payed in that matter either!! Great write Chris!! The assistant coaches and players made 2012 with little spice from dougie. Hell it took him 2 1/2 years to just stare and chew gum on the sidelines and not stick up or motivate his team.

  6. I agree with the comments that RB and OL are the most important. I wondered on another thread if a guy like Mike Hart, currently RB coach at Eastern Mich. might want to return to his home town, and recruit the “upstate” area while a guy like Anselmo focuses on NYC, NJ, and LI. Put Anselmo at either DB or Special Teams. Shafer has coached DB’s in the past and McDonald has not only coached Special Teams, but was a kick returner at Illinois I believe.

  7. Just saw that this guy DeAndre Smith is our new RB coach. He’s coached some really good RB’s like Mikel Leshoure that put up a ton of yards. Not at huge programs, but still somewhat impressive.

  8. I’ve been asking about Rouse the 2012 NYS-HS-FB Gator Aid Player of the year and no results. He’s not even listed on recruiting site!! Is he a junior, poor grades or how come with an award like this no word on him from SU. Nice looking NY kid that can play why not at SU?? Any ideas why he’s invisible?? Take a look HCSS!! This is one of MAJOR reasons why the DOME is 1/3 filled. Lack of local talent to really root for. It works in Alabama and Mississippi!! They have a smaller population and are packed with their local kids. HCSS must cement the NYS player base. Hell dougie hardly tried!! OOPPS sorry couldn’t resist!!

  9. terry rouse was playing against defenses where their best players are lucky to go d-1AA he had a great season, yes, but you have to look at more than his yards and touchdowns.

  10. As far as Rouse Goes talked to a lot of people that evaluate talent and honestly say that he doesnt look like D1 talent. Ive seen him play and doesnt make me say wow we need that guy. The other problem is that if Cuse did get him the presure from the local media asking about y he’s not playing and stuff like that would be crazy. Look at the Stuff with broyld this year and how fast people started asking questions.

  11. AnaheimOrange

    I believe the chart above should read Offensive Coordinator: 4) George McDonald vice Offensive Line: 4) George McDonald (Hackett).

    No charge for editor’s fee at this time!

  12. AnaheimOrange

    Also, no need to further speculate about Anselmo’s role – he’s headed east on the thruway as I type.

  13. Smitty Section 129

    Where to stud QB’s come from? Pennsylvania baby. Austin Wilson could be ae next Ryan Nassib. Love that Moore is staying. WR’s position is alot better then before he came on aboard. Hire Carsullos son has special team coach and our connecton to Florida recruits begins.

  14. @AnaheimOrange – Don’t you mean he’s headed west? I too will not charge an editor’s fee.

    Glad we could shore up Wilson a bit, but I am really worried that we just lost a NYC/NJ connection. Alabama and Miss. can afford to sell out for local talent, it’s SEC caliber talent. Do you think Tide fans come out on game day just because the players have local ties, or is it really because they have won 3 of the last 4 NC? I’d stay local too for that talent. That said, we should own the local market, and the coaches we’re losing vs the ones coming in show weakening ties to the NYC/NJ/LI market. This to me is very bad news.
    I don’t think Rocco Casullo would come back to SU just yet. He’s got a good gig. I think he likes living in Florida too much. He’s the HC and the AD. I am sure he’s doing well. I’d like to see it, as it is a bold move, but I don’t hold out hope. Shafer is gonna stick with directional Michigan and directional Illinois guys.

  15. AnaheimOrange

    @Malone – touche!

  16. Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with then you can write if not it is complicated to write.|

  17. i beleive schafer and trust him to do what he has to do, and would hope all of our verbals come play for the orange next season.

  18. PTG is no better than Rouse!! I’ve seen both play. He is an award winning NYS FB player!! Some one saw award winning talent there.

  19. Sorry!! How about the RBs that came out of Onondaga HS?? Their league ain’t all that tough either. One of us is wrong about Rouse. But the issue of no rating(even Div-1A talent gets rated), he didn’t. Why didn’t EO or Smith win the NYS Gator Aid Award??new from NYS or know is NYC the 51st state!! Something smells here. Oh yeah I said the same thing about dougie in October 2012 too!!

  20. CuseOnly

    Please God make FloridaSteve… err Terrie Go away!

  21. CuseOnly

    Such a douche nozzle.

  22. Cuse Don't Luse

    more coaches leave i just want some good news right now how about a louisville and pitt sweep (football, home bball, away bball) that would make me go to bed better but if we dont win then i dont mind as much because i want some rivalries moving into the ACC

  23. If rouse committed to su terry would be spamming the heck out of this page saying such things as hes not even listed on rivals. Lets all do ourselves a favor and annoy this little pest and he eventually will retreat from his computer to the friendly confines of his mother basement floor. Good luck little guy!

  24. I meant to say ignore,freudian slip. In regards to what was actually discussed in the article i am very excited about the direction the fball program is moving in. Go Cuse!

  25. Cuse Don't Luse

    I looked up Rouse the kid is built, athletic, and can certainly get on the field for us

  26. IM BACK FOLKS!!! I don’t think its in the best interest if SU goes after recruits that are already committed verbals to other schools. It could develop into a nasty rep on SU’s part. Houston and North Illinois might not appreciate that!! SU didn’t like it when it happened to them. That’s not SU!! Sorry you Babbling brothers you got to deal with me!!

  27. Much like Asian Carp are slowly creeping into the Great Lakes it appears as if Florida Steve has found The Fizz, Fuuu@@kkk me. As soon as I saw his “chewing gum” quote I threw my hands up.

    Steve(Terry), just as a heads up this site is typically frequented by rational Syracuse fans that tend to have factual based arguments that do not include repetitive posts, multiple capitalized words as well as numerous exclamation marks. (Shit, also forgot multiple names)

    I used to post on (OrangeinCarolina2) though you pretty much ruined that for not only myself but everyone else. Again if you post logically there won’t be a problem.

  28. I’ve been quiet now during the last two weeks reading all of the post that have been made since coach Doug Marrone left the university for Buffalo. He’s been called all kinds of names because he and just about all of his assistants left with him. As we all know when any head coach leaves one position and goes to another job he takes the assistants that he feels most comfortable with that will help him transition into his next job no matter where it is including the NFL. People like the “Terries” of the world seem to take the personal side of the equation out of it and start throwing clueless and false accusations about the person into a public domain such as this web site. If you have a family,isn’t it our jobs to make their lives the best that we can? Don’t we go after the best damn job in order to make our families secure and provide them with the best that there is to offer? It hurt when he left,but by no means am I going to belittle an individual for doing whats best to provide for his family and I will support him from this point on.

    Syracuse hired Coach Shafer as the replacement. A person full of brimstone and fire,piss and vinegar,if you will. I think that he’s putting one hell of a coaching staff together and from what I’ve read,their already out recruiting players to come to Syracuse . If these new coaches are as fired up as much as the new coach is, then I feel new records will be achieved and reaching a BCS Bowl game at the end of the year is within reach for Syracuse again.

    To all of the people who have been playing Chicken Little over the last couple weeks,my message to them is the sky isn’t falling,the sky isn’t falling. Lets give the new staff a chance and see what happens. I think in the end were all going to be pleasantly surprised,all except for the Terries of the world,that is.

    GO Coach Shafer,GO CUSE.

  29. @Jesse H; Loved the above post.

    I made the statement that when Terrie come to the end and couldn’t find anything to complain about that he would start to regurgitate the old ones.

    He doesn’t understand that Tyler Rouse is not a Div. I player. Syracuse isn’t the only one that hasn’t offered him a scholarship neither has any of the other DI schools offered. The last great DI player to come from Syracuse was Jolan Dunbar out of Henniger High School that went and played for Boston College and is now playing in the NFL.

    Greg Robison couldn’t find Henniger High School and didn’t make a trip that was 4 blocks away from the university to try and get him to come to Syracuse.

    Again, his comment comparing Tyler Rouse to Prince Tyson Gulley is pure nonsense and just goes to show me that he really doesn’t know anything about the game of football.

    One other thing about Terrie,he’s going to be loyal to Coach Shafer until the season starts and Syracuse loses a game and when they do is when his loyalty gets tossed out the window and my god and complaints start coming as hard and fast as water over a dam.

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  1. [...] McDonald key for Syracuse in coaching changes [...]

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