Syracuse has fired Head Coach Scott Shafer after the Orange dropped its eighth straight game with its loss to N.C. State on Saturday. Syracuse now sits at 3-8 and will not go to a bowl game for the second straight year. Athletic Director Mark Coyle released a statement Monday.
“Scott has worked tirelessly to educate out students on and off the field and to build our program. However, I feel a change in leadership is needed at this time. A national search will begin immediately.”
There was some promise when Shafer took over for Doug Marrone. He coached the team to a 7-6 record, including a Texas Bowl Championship in his first season. Then it all went downhill. Last season, the Orange lost nine of their last ten and this season, at best, the Orange will lose eight of their last nine. His overall record is 13-23.
More than his record, some of his in-game decisions were downright bizarre and ill-advised. From his squib kick against Pitt, to poorly called timeouts against Florida State to going for two way too early against N.C. State, Shafer just made too many mistakes that a head coach simply cannot make.
The decision to fire him now as opposed to after the Boston College game is an interesting one. Shafer will still coach on Saturday but it will be his “farewell game”, his senior day. When it comes down to it, it really didn’t matter whether Coyle fired him today or in a week.
The strongest argument for keeping Shafer was that the had not had the chance to implement his players, the guys that he recruited. There has been some promise from the guys that Shafer recruited, particularly on offense. Eric Dungey, Jordan Fredericks and Dontae Strickland have all shown glimpses of tremendous ability.
However, when the pros and cons of Shafer are weighed, I still find it hard to argue that he should have kept his job for another year. He had one last chance to salvage his job. If Syracuse could have pulled off the road win against N.C. State and still had a chance to make a bowl at 5-7, maybe Coyle would have given him another year.
Now, Syracuse is staring another 3-9 season (this one with possibly nine straight loses) in the face and Coyle had little choice but to relieve Shafer. It is sure to be an interesting off-season for Syracuse football. There is no one obvious candidate to replace Shafer and Coyle has his work cut out for him finding a coach who can turn this Syracuse football program around.