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Shafer Shoots Straight: Coach is Not Mincing Words About Syracuse’s Program

Scott Shafer knows how to captivate a crowd. Whether he’s standing behind the podium, or standing in front of 20,000… er, 4,000 fans inside the Dome, the man knows how to get Orange juices pumping. On Monday the hard-nosed coach spoke to guests at the Links of Erie Village Golf Course in East Syracuse.

Bud Poliquin over at the Post-Standard picked out some of the more interesting quotes. The Fizz breaks down Shafer’s takes on recruiting, expectations, and the ACC.

  • On attracting top HS talent:

“We’re never going to attract the five-star, highly-touted recruit to Syracuse consistently. We won’t… until we get Phil Knight, like Oregon did. We don’t have that formula. So let’s find out what our formula is. Let’s find that ugly kid who’s not quite big enough, not quite as sexy as some of these other big-time recruits. Let’s bring them in here as 18-year-olds and get them to play with a purpose.”

Although he’s right, it’s something you never truly want to admit. The big fish evaded the Orange once again this February after Doug Marrone left. Shafer’s staff was able to bring in a slew of late recruits, and that “ugly duckling” of this class could be WR Corey Cooper. The Raleigh, NC native was ranked as a 3-star and only #182 by Scout, but has terrific route-running ability. It’s an underdog vibe that Shafer is selling. The thought of coming in and competing right away is the most important sell. Recruits will hear the stories about the lower rated players like Ryan Nassib and Prince Tyson-Gulley shined, and how successful they can become.

  • On realistic expectations for 2013:

“The strengths are, I think, the kids have bought into the idea that we can win games we’re not supposed to win. By out-toughing people. By having a great attitude. By having an unbelievable effort. And by understanding that if we put our head down and try to beat that guy across from us for 60 minutes, we’ll have the chance to win just about any game we play. Maybe we’ll be a little bit uglier than we want to be this year, but at the end of the year if we have more wins than losses, I’m going to be real proud of this outfit.”

Apparently, the Syracuse football squad are playing the underdog card right out of the chute. With a first-year starting QB, a new receiving corps, and totally different offensive line in a much tougher conference, Shafer is correct: a bowl would be a huge success. But is he too openly candid about it? The Clemson and Florida State games may the only “unwinnable” ones on the schedule for this fall. Syracuse’s six other conference matchups are all up in the air.

  • On the facilities:

“I would say we do lose kids because the facilities aren’t good. But we also say that if we do a good job with the kid and we get the passion of my assistant coaches to be seen by the recruit and his parents… and we then lose the kid because of a building? I probably didn’t want him, anyway, to be honest with you.”

This one is spot on, whether you like it or not. It’s a great thing renovations are on the way, but applaud Shafer for flipping this around as a positive. He wants old-school recruits coming in, not ones swayed by superficial things. But the fact is players like facilities, and feeling they’re getting the best. He’s again selling that underdog role, and so far it’s working with successes like A.J. Long. But having a gleaming new building is pretty good too.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

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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