SU’s astounding victory over Clemson on Friday night had every single ingredient that a great upset needs. It came out of nowhere. It was a dominant effort (SU never trailed in the game). It saw one of SU’s most maligned units step up. It was a home victory in front of the largest crowd of 2017 and one of the largest football crowds in the Dome in quite a while. But, perhaps most important of all, it came in the national spotlight.
The fact that this upset was broadcast on national television cannot be understated when considering the kind of impact it can have on this Syracuse football program. Hundreds of thousands of people probably saw this game, including prospective recruits. We’ve already covered what SU commits thought about the win, but they were already headed to the Hill even before the upset happened. The real question now is how important this win is for future Syracuse recruiting efforts. So now, let’s break down 3 ways SU’s win over Clemson is a huge boost for its recruiting repertoire.
First and foremost, this victory shows that Syracuse can hang with the big boys. The SU football team has been mediocre at best over the past few seasons. Sure last season’s upset of Virginia Tech was pretty good, but it still needed a more marquee victory to add to its resume. That’s exactly what it got with Clemson. The Tigers came into the Dome undefeated, #2 in the country, and the defending national champions. For all intents and purposes SU had no right winning this game, but it did. With that win now shining on its record, future recruits can see that this Syracuse football program is one heading in the right direction under the tutelage of Dino Babers. A victory like this is the kind of win the Syracuse program needed to put themselves on the rise in the minds of recruits. Those talented guys that can help to turn your program around want to win. They want to compete for a national championship and can choose pretty much anywhere to try to make that a reality. Before this win they probably weren’t thinking of Syracuse as a program that could even come close to that. I’m not saying that all of a sudden it is, but at least now they won’t be thinking of the loss to Middle Tennessee State, instead they’ll be thinking of a win over a powerhouse program. They’ll be thinking to themselves, “Hmm, I think I can go and help Syracuse continue to grow and make gigantic strides in the right direction. That’s something I want to be a part of.” And who knows maybe that’s exactly what Syracuse needs to snag top-caliber recruits moving forward.
Top speed offense = top level recruits
Another important factor in making the decision of where to spend the next four years of their lives for recruits lies in the simple fun of the game. A lot of these guys grew up falling in love with football and using it as a way to simply have fun. Even though the collegiate level of football is about so much more than just playing the game, at the end of the day, recruits want to go to a place where they can continue to have fun and love the sport. Syracuse showed that it was that place on Friday night. The up-tempo Dino Babers offense was running at full speed against one of the best defenses in the country and boy was it fun to watch. It seemed like there was never a dull moment when SU had the ball in its hands. The Orange was constantly moving: vertically, horizontally, diagonally and it was doing it with great efficiency and prowess. If you’re an offensive recruit that loves to score the football, run as many plays as possible and wants as many opportunities with the ball in your hands as you can get, then SU may have just shown that it’s a perfect landing spot. There’s no other way to put, the Dino Babers offense is fun and something special to watch. He put it on display on Friday night and I’m sure it caught a lot of young, quick and athletic guys’ eyes. With the way football is trending and how much significance is being placed on the offensive side of the ball, recruits want to see offenses racking up yardage and points so that they can do the same for themselves in the future. SU showcased that offensive ability on Friday and that can only serve to help them down the road.
Dino Babers gets better and better with every passing week. At this point, he pretty much has me at a loss for words. Not only is he an incredible football mind that runs an intricate and sophisticated offense, he’s also a family man, involved with the community and provides some of the best sound bites you will ever hear in your entire lives (see above). He’s simply a fun guy to watch coach and I’m sure a fun guy to play for and with the way he now has the program trending after the win over Clemson, he’s going to be a huge draw for recruits moving forward. With that fun personality and fantastic coaching ability comes a passion for recruiting that Babers has that not many head coaches can boast. When asked about what he was going to do to celebrate the win he said, “I’ll probably go home and hopefully get fried noodles,” later adding, “and then I’ll wake up tomorrow and I’ve gotta go recruiting.” After one of the biggest wins in program history, all this man wants to do is eat some food and go out and make his football team better. The next day, he went to visit Trill Williams and Qadir White, two class of 2018 commits who were playing against each other on Saturday. That kind of commitment to his craft and to improving this SU program speaks volumes to what kind of a football coach Dino Babers is. He’s committed to his team, committed to his players and wants to take this Syracuse football program to the highest level possible. Had this Clemson win not happened, maybe some recruits wouldn’t have seen Dino Babers making those comments and maybe they wouldn’t know how much fun Dino Babers is and just how special he can make this program. However, by having this win come on a national stage and thrusting Babers into the national spotlight (he was on SportsCenter the next morning), recruits have taken note of what Babers brings to the table and that will help Syracuse in the recruiting game in coming cycles.
Overall, the upset over Clemson was a program-defining victory, but most importantly the fact that it was on national television brought it to the eyes of hundreds of prospective recruits. The Orange flashed its ability to take down dominant programs, its fun and exciting offensive system and one of the most charismatic and promising coaches in all of college football. Recruits have officially taken note of the Orange and who knows, maybe this win and exposure will help SU build on its success over the past few recruiting cycles (Tommy Devito, Tyrone Sampson, Qadir White) and bring some more winning football to Central New York.