It feels like we ask this question every year, doesn’t it? But this year, it might be more true than ever. Coming off a season in which Syracuse started 6-0, you would think Dino Babers’ job is secure for the foreseeable future, right? Not so fast. A pathetic 1-6 ending to the season led media and fans alike to think otherwise. As the extension Babers signed through 2024 a few years ago nears its end, if the ball bounces a certain way it’ll be the last we see of him on the SU sidelines.
Throughout Babers’ career (and this light has shined brighter over the past few seasons), the month of November has not been friendly. That cannot happen this year if the Orange want to go bowling again. It’s going to be a lot to ask to beat Clemson, Florida State, or North Carolina (the last two are on the road). Assuming SU beats the three non-Power Five foes it faces in 2023, it has six games left, all of which are either on the road or in November. This represents a golden opportunity for Babers to squash those demons, but it could also be a sad ending to his career in Central New York.
If you want to go more in-depth on the late-season collapse, you can pinpoint a lot of it to Babers’ inability to instill discipline in his players. Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff’s unnecessary roughness at the end of the Clemson game? Can’t happen. The safety at the end of the Pitt game? What are we doing. Finally, a pick-six, long kickoff return, and a game-sealing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the Pinstripe Bowl? What gives? With an ending like that, had SU not gone to a bowl last season it would’ve been difficult to justify Babers returning.
Finally, the program’s failed recruiting efforts speak volumes. Several national media outlets list Syracuse as having the worst recruiting class in not just the ACC, but all of the Power Five. The talent SU does bring in has shown no hesitancy to jump ship at the snap of a finger, and this was never more evident after the departures of coordinators Robert Anae and Tony White. This program cannot withstand another bad recruiting effort like that, and that falls on Babers. Plain and simple.
Babers never ceases to make the local media laugh in press conferences, but the national media could be laughing at the Athletic Department if Syracuse disappoints this season and Babers still has a job when the dust settles. As likable as he is as a person, another season filled with silly penalties and bad decisions has to raise red flags.