Prior to this season, Dino Babers was not all that popular within the Syracuse fan base. Orange fans were justifiably unsatisfied after SU scratched across one measly win in a year to forget. Babers has been on the hill coaching this team for 6 years now, of course, his crowning jewels are the 2017 upset over Clemson and the 2018 season in which Babers coached the Orange to 10 wins and a bowl victory. Since that fever dream of a season, Syracuse fans have been let down year in, year out. Though 2021 may prove different. At 5-4, the Orange sit one win outside bowl eligibility. Could Babers win SU fans back with some postseason success this year, or is his job unsalvageable?
Let’s go through the Pros/Cons of his season:
It’s no secret Babers has made some pretty head-scratching calls in terms of clock management and overall late-game coaching this season. His blunders against FSU/Wake Forest/Clemson/Virginia Tech are all duly noted all throughout our website. Babers has shown an undying ineptitude toward clock management this season. That’s a huge issue for a football coach at any level. Clock management is the same at every level, whether you’re taking pee wee or the NFL, the clock works the same. So that’s why it’s so hard to understand why Babers has such a hard time doing what most fans in the building think they could probably accomplish. Clock management and poor late-game coaching isn’t his only problem. Syracuse has not played clean football this year. According to NCAA.com, SU is tied for 100th out of 130 teams in terms of penalties committed (58). Every week we see Syracuse commit stupid penalty after stupid penalty halting drives or staggering momentum. Whether it’s Matthew Bergeron jumping early, a defender getting called for a late hit, or the team being generally unprepared leading to a delay of game. Good football teams play clean football, these penalties come back to coaching. It doesn’t end there, however. Have you seen the special teams unit this season? James Williams was supposed to be next up at what has seemingly become PunterU. Syracuse fans and media alike expected Williams to come in and be as effective as Sterling Hofrichter was. Instead, Dino’s got him doing “specialty punts” that have only ended up shooting out of bounds into the stands 8 yards down the field. What happened to “a special teams unit that’s well-coached,” Dino?
On Paper, SU’s recruiting hasn’t been too spectacular over Baber’s tenure. Here’s how his classes have ranked within the ACC since 2017:
2022: 13th (As of now)
Not incredibly impressive to say the least. It’s important to note that in that time, Babers has only landed 2 4-star recruits, Trill Williams and Tommy DeVito. While it’s easy to look at that and say Babers hasn’t done a good job, take a step back and give him some credit for what he’s turned those guys into. The current roster SU’s boasts is an extremely talented one, built on entirely 3-stars or lower. Babers found diamonds in the rough and deserves credit for it.
Syracuse was predicted to have just three wins this season, 1 or 2 in the ACC. The disrespect was palpable in the preseason. Whichever way you slice it, Syracuse proved just about everyone wrong and once again sits a win away from bowl eligibility. So give Babers some credit for where this team stands. They aren’t back to the level of 2018, though regardless this has been a huge step in the right direction.