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

SU’s head man is telling it as he sees it, even if it’s hard to hear.

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

24 Comments on this Post

  1. I love this guy. Much more genuine than Marrone ever was — and you have to think that comes across to recruits. If we can keep him here, and he’s able to bring in recruiters like Coach McDonald, I think Syracuse Football is going to be just fine. Can’t wait for the season to start.

  2. Big A In The EL

    I got goose pimples reading that. Marrone was extremely robotic and Shafer seems to be able to tell it like it is.

  3. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,Ive been trying to tell anyone on this site the Dougie just wasnt gonna cut it due to lack of charisma/personality but HCSS seems to “get it”…as much as we hated “Shady” the kids liked what he was selling…this guys already got this old dog excited!! HCSS has what the kids like or the “it” factor thats been missing!!

  4. BigDip

    @UncRuss.. I really believe HCDM was hardwired to be standoffish with the media. Its the NFL/pro sport way of doing things… every coach has their own way of dealing with media ex: lane kiffin or urban meyer?

    I like HCSS because he couldnt hide, and did a great job of reacting to everthing that had encompassed the program. The new hires, the talent influx from day 1, the positive approach he & his wife has toward media and the community, dealing with traitors( allen/edwards)
    respectfully, & his “60 mins. of hell” mantra!!!! He can be successful b4 ever touching the field..

    * QUESTION: Do fans like a defensive coach (HCSS/HCPPas) more than an offensive guru (HCDM)?

  5. Russell,I couldn’t agree with you more. Straight talking and to the point. For me it is a breath of fresh air and brings to the program exactly what was missing.

    With both coaches having strong personalities,I can only imagine what the coaches meetings were like between Rich Rodriguez and Scott Shafer out in Michigan. We all should thank Rodriguez for letting him go.

    In the end Russell,I believe that Shafer will take Syracuse to a level that hasn’t been seen around here for a long time.

    There was a time that Syracuse had another coach with the same attitude a desire to win and wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind. Does Ben Schwartzwalder come to mind Russell when discussing Scott Shafer? They’re two peas from the same pod. I think Coach Shafer is going to do alright here and really hope that once he achieves his goals that he decides to stay and coach at Syracuse University.

  6. @BigDip;

    some good toughts and writing,nice to hear fron you again.

    Everyone has Syracuse a huge underdog going into the ACC. I really don’t see it that way at all. People are already predicting and posting their over-all record for the year. If Syracuse beats Penn State to start the season and then travels to Northwestern and beats them in prime time on national television watch out. I also think the big upset is going to be against Clemson in the dome. YES,I SAID CLEMSON IN THE DOME. If that happens Syracuse will go to the ACC Championship Game and will play Florida State with a trip to the Orange Bowl for the victor.

    Syracuse goes 9-3,10-2 or maybe 11-1 for the season.

    I know,I KNOW, that i’m being overly optomistic but guys I see Coach Shafer pulling this out.

  7. 4orty4our

    @ Ron. There is nothing wrong with your optimism. It’s actually contagious. Especially when we’re surrounded by people on which are hardwired to be constantly negative and cynical. I agree we will turn heads this year and I hope your prediction is correct. Boy I must say the comments from to fizz and nunes magician are a complete 180. G’ORANGE

  8. orangeinva

    @Ron…Fla St is in Cuse’s division I think so playing them in the ACC championship game won’t happen.

    Maybe Miami?

  9. LilJoe47

    I’m loving Shafer and McDonald. I love their straight talk… But he may have overstepped on the “We will never get the five star recruit” line. I know where he’s coming from, but if you are selling a Syracuse education, with your coaching staff, tradition, and a soon-to-be new facilities, you shouldn’t say “never”. Maybe not now, but someday they could…. I love the recruits we are getting, keep building and building… We’ll get there.

  10. i do like this move as coach schafer takes us to the acc along with his staff, but i also beleive su needs to put money into the football program. i don’t want to sound like a broken record but i feel we need to have something to sell when it comes to syracuse university football. i like the effort the players and coaches are putting in for the upcoming season. i’m also looking foward to the incoming class to get here as well and get rolling into there football careers here at su.. i feel the trains still making progress in the right direction and will continue to do so but feel with some updating and the indoor practice facility will make things a little bit nicer..

  11. Terry

    Great thoughts above. But Ron your optimism is quite to high. 6-6 would be a like 10 win season in 2013. SU is not there yet but the bricks are there to start a great build!! After all Clemson, NC, Miami and Fl St are there-remember. I’m just concerned about if SU/HCSS does struggle if the same high hopes now will be there in the spring of 2014 too??

    HCSS clearly out mans dougie the robot(god I’m glad he’s gone) every day!!

    I do disagree with HCSS on 4/5 stars talent coming here. But facilities IS a major issue and he’s right there. It took some balls to mention that-dougie wouldn’t do that!! SU/HCSS can not depend on “ugly” talent to win every year it won’t work. You need a couple Secretariats(Triple Crown Winner) on the team to win constantly!!

    This program needs support from Alums, fans and media to survive the ACC. If after a decade SU is successful you’ll see the Dome filled again. A dream come true!!

  12. SJJ44

    Love HCSS, but he is wrong about 5 star recruits. His comment presumes erroneously that there is something inherently inferior about Syracuse. Yet our elite basketball and lacrosse programs prove othewrwise. If these programs can consistently draw 5 star recruits, as they do, then there is absolutely no reason why a once great program which produced the likes of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Marvin Harrison, Donovan McNabb, and Dwight Freeny, cannot do the same. Yes, we must continue to build on recent success and improve facilities, but it absolutely can be done. We need HCSS to believe it too!

  13. @orangeinva;

    I’m reading articles that alls not well in Florida State Land. I put that game on the lost column for Syracuse but after seeing that people are leaving maybe I ought to rethink my opinion. Thanks for setting me straight about the division their in,we could face Miami in the championship game. Boy wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants if that happened.

    I’m still sticking with my prediction on the upset over Clemson.


    Remembrer Terry we’re coming off of an 8-5 season. Going 9-3 or 10-2 in 2013 is by no means out of the realm of possibility.

    to all who had comments about my earlier post,I say thank you. You guys are what makes this board enjoyable.

    I asked in an earlier post if you can see or feel the change that is coming to the team. If you can’t then,in my book your not a fan of Syracuse Football.

    Guys I wish the first game of the season was on Saturday.

  14. @4orty4our;

    My prediction is for the regular season. If any of what I predicted happens,then add another win to the record because no matter what bowl Syracuse goes to they will win.

    So much for the under-dog.

  15. In the past Syracuse has played some of the best programs in the land. Deep down I know that they’ve never been afraid to play anyone.

    Syracuse vs Clemson 1996 Gator Bowl (WIN)
    Syracuse vs Auburn 1988 Sugar Bowl (TIE)
    Syraxcuse vs West Virginia 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl (WIN) Instant classic
    Syracuse vs Missouri 2012 season at Missouri (WIN) Instant classic
    Syracuse vs Wisconsin 1997 Kick off Classic (WIN) Instant classic
    Syracuse vs Nebraska 1984 Home in the dome. (WIN) Instant classic

    Clemson came into the 1996 Gator Bowl Game with the 4th best rushing attack in the country. A Donavan McNabb led Syracuse beat them 41-0. I don’t see any reason as to why that can’t be accomplished again in 2013.

    I know that Syracuse will be ready for the dog fight that this game will be.

    GO CUSE;

  16. Terry

    Ron Ron Ron again your hoping for Santa to arrive. The 8-5 season was from the Big Least league remember! And most would agree that the ACC was a better league!! No way 9/10 wins this year. And I really hope your right and I’m dumb!! But I don’t see that. PSU and NW are not push overs. Let alone the rest of the ACC!! 6-6 would be a 9/10 win season to most. Yesteryear history is that-history. Their are blow-outs on SU too in those years as well. Down the road with success I’ll fight off any negative word about the CUSE. But please take it easy and lets see what happens. But please Santa bring the CUSE a 9/10 win season I’ll still take it.!!

    SJJ44- I agree totally with you. Yet I do understand HCSS thinking. Now and in the near future 4/5 stared kids are more like diamonds than talent for SU. If SU is going to improve it needs some superior talent, which 4/5 star kids give you. Its going to be a slow process because of our recent history of lack last-er performance on the field. A .500 record in the last 4 yrs shows that. Let alone the 4 yrs before that. But please HCSS calm down and lets see if coach McD. and staff can bring in the studs. But if success comes I can guarantee one thing and that is Coach Mcd and some staff are history, but we’ll gamble on that huh. I will!! GO SU!!

    Yes I know Ron/Rus I just babbled!! LOL!!

  17. Carlton

    @Ron- Everything is fine at FSU. Lead the country in kids drafted this past draft /w a 11 and got 2-3 guys that might go in the 1st rd again this coming yr. I saw Clemson last yr up close and they got 1 thing you cant coach…Speed! and a lot of it. Boyd came back and so did wattkins, so an upset is unlikely but I guess it could happen. Just remember that this is a team that beat LSU at the end of the season. PSU is a toss up just b/c they are a program in flux. NW, FSU, Clemson are better on paper and PSU, GT are close match-ups. 8-5 would be a good season.

  18. Terry

    Carlton PSU and NW have decent quality. Certainally a slight step above SU, their staffs are solid and been in place at least 1 or more years. SU’s staff has no games under its belt = a rookie coach to boot!! 8-5 is still a long stretch!! Some still(by bowl records) sees the Big Least as good as ACC. The ACC might not be SEC or BIG-10 like, but the ACC is a dynamite league. Your right, their bigger and faster than the Big Least, so only time will build SU into the ACC frame!! 6-6 is reality. Better than that is MILLER time worse than that is still under consideration!!

  19. @Carlton;

    Well Carlton,it seems that you know the team better than anyone so I’m going to trust your word on Florida State.


    Terry,I’ve been one of Santa’s helpers for over the last 20 years at company functions,local fire departments,family gatherings and private Christmas parties. I’ve gone to hospitals and visited the childrens ward on numerous occasions. By putting on that outfit,I know the power that Santa brings to the children. I know that I’m dreaming,when I talk about the football team. But if anyone outside of the coaching can can deliver a 9 or 10 win season for me,it’s Santa Claus.
    You know the old saying Terry,you got to believe,well I believe that it can be done.

  20. Terry

    I believe in Santa to Ron!!!

  21. @Terry;

    I’ve never given up on him Terry. I know the up and coming season is going to be a rough one. I also know that I’ve set the standards high for this team. The ball has to bounce in Syracuse’s favor each and every game.

    If they can stop shooting themselves in the foot by committing all of those stupid penalities,then Terry I feel that we have a chance,a real good chance of going at least 9-3 for the season.

    I will forever remember the class of 2012 for turning the program around. I called them our “Modern Day Titan’s”. Should we nickname the 2013 football team “THE TRUCK” because of the heavy load that they’re expected to carry forth this year?

    I’ve already given the defense the label “THE CLOSER”.

  22. Terry

    I’m way ahead of recruiting here, but with 2 verbals SU is rated in the 60’s again. Its EARLY yes, but others like Louisville for one is nearly in double figures. I have always been nervous about real early verbals. SU is even behind Duke now. HCSS/Coach McD will improve that nationally, but still its interesting. With the knowledge of trying for better talent that must take more time. But the method is increasing for talent to commit early, because of all the hassles. But also some of these kids play this system for the fame and I feel that’s not really HCSS style either. Just wondering. Of course the media never catches on about interesting articles like this would be!!

  23. Cuse17

    You people are crazy!

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