Tuesday night George McDonald said he was “blindsided” by the news of his demotion, and that he never would’ve left Arkansas if he knew the rug would be pulled out from under him in just 18 games at the offensive coordinator.
These are the soap opera details that we alluded to on Sunday when speculating about McDonald’s future as OC. It was clear A) the offense was stagnant and B) Terrel Hunt was stuck in a rut. So the move to Tim Lester as the play-caller would appease fans in the short-term, but would it alienate one of SU’s best recruiters in the long-term?
For the moment, it sure seems like McDonald has been rubbed raw. He remains on staff, and insists he will remain hard-working and positive through this. However, in his first opportunity to put on a smile and do the “good soldier” act, he went in the other direction. He admitted to crying when he heard the news, and said he didn’t sign up to be demoted before the halfway point of Year 2.
What does it mean for the season? There may be players who feel loyal to McDonald who are bothered by this, especially since he has now suggested this was an unfair hook. If Lester’s offense is more productive however, players will eventually buy in. Their scholarships and playing time are on the line. There could be tension on the staff, though. One has to imagine Scott Shafer isn’t happy with McDonald being so candid. Will McDonald resent any success Lester achieves?
What does it mean for recruiting? A more diabolical question. Recruiting is incredibly reliant on relationships with high school coaches. They steer kids your way, give you inroads to certain families, and paint your program in a positive or negative light. There’s no secret McDonald has many very close and strong relationships throughout South Florida and elsewhere. Will his contacts feel like Syracuse shafted McDonald? Will high school coaches be less inclined to sell the SU program to their kids and families? Will McDonald leave in the offseason and land at another school?
All of this is in play now for the Orange, a drama-filled season just turned more dramatic. Not what the Orange needed.