When Scott Shafer left the Carrier at the end of the 2015 season, it was on the shoulders of his players after after a win over Boston College. Less than two years later, he’ll return to the Dome Saturday to face his old team as a member of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The man who took over Shafer’s spot on the SU sidelines is Dino Babers, who has excited the Syracuse fan base after just 13 games as head coach. But as Shafer reminds us in his return to Syracuse, head coaches can turn for the worst quickly. When he was at the point Dino Babers is at now, Shafer was at peak popularity in his SU tenure.
Scott Shafer took over the Syracuse football team in 2013, when he went 7-6 in his first season at the helm and led the Orange to a win in the Texas Bowl. The Orange picked up wins over the ACC’s Boston College, NC State, Maryland and Wake Forest. He led the Orange to a bowl game and win, but more importantly had proven to the rest of the conference that SU could compete in the ACC in its first year out of the Big East. In the first week of his second year, SU won an ugly game against Villanova to improve to 1-0 in 2015. Shafer couldn’t have been thinking he would be out of a job less than two years later.
Shafer’s recruiting classes never jumped off the page at you — he brought in players you would expect Syracuse to be able to get, many of which will be playing against him on Saturday. Eric Dungey is probably the most notable get for Shafer, but at the time he was just another three-star recruit. Babers has done better. In 2017, his class No. 54 in the nation, according to 247Sports.com, which is higher than any of Shafer’s classes. That class included Tommy Devito, who was given the four-star tag after committing to Syracuse. In 2018, Babers has already pulled in a pair of four-star offensive lineman. Shafer never brought a four-star recruit to SU. The 2017 class had 8 recruits in 247’s top 1000 while the 2018 class already has nine. Shafer never had more than six.
Scott Shafer was most popular at Syracuse when he was at this point in Dino Babers’ tenure. After a year of promise and another win to start Year 2, nobody is thinking about the end of the Babers Era. But nobody was thinking about Scott Shafer’s firing at the time either, and if the former SU coach taught us anthing it’s that things can go downhill fast.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson