George McDonald seems like a decent guy. He’s usually affable, smiling and at ease. He has developed some amazing recruiting connections over his career, and usually that comes from being able to build strong relationships with coaches and families. People need to trust you. And people tend to trust McDonald, or he wouldn’t have the recruiting reputation he does.
But his sour act in the wake of the demotion was petulant. It highlighted a major dissension, even if it was just momentarily and out of emotion. Both McDonald and Scott Shafer tried to bury things – apologies and family talks – and move on. But can we believe this won’t affect the team long term?
One phrase that keeps popping up from long-time insiders and people close to the program? This is a “very bad look” for everyone at Syracuse.
McDonald admitted he has a ton of respect for Tim Lester, and that he’s behind him completely. Which is great, and Orange fans hope that McDonald plays good soldier and is supportive of everything the staff does from here on out.
But let’s ask this question: Is there any way McDonald comes back next season? A 10% chance? 5%? One would imagine he feels embarrassed. He knows he could go ahead and make more money being the receivers coach at a power program, not one that takes Villanova to OT and is playing for Texas Bowls. So why stick around Syracuse?
If McDonald is already fielding offers from friends in the coaching fraternity, or his old programs at Arkansas or Miami, is he going to be properly selling SU to recruits? Are the high school coaches he deals with already warning players not to commit to the Orange if they’re following McDonald? Is McDonald even allowed to be recruiting right now for SU?
It seems impossible this can be salvaged. If Tim Lester oversees a complete transformation of the offense (with a backup quarterback), McDonald looks incompetent. If the offense still struggles, McDonald looks like a scapegoat. You can’t reinstall him after the season as the OC. So he’ll move on to another job. And if he’s prone to emotional outbursts about regrets in coming to CNY to media, what’s he prone to say behind closed doors to coaches, players and parents?
The problem is, unless McDonald is of the highest integrity and refuses to do anything but help the program that just demoted him publicly, it’s going to hurt the Orange in some way.
And if that’s the inevitable – isn’t the next inevitable cutting him loose completely?