With his football team in a typical position after six games as compared to the rest of his tenure, this feels like a good time to evaluate how Dino Babers stands in terms of his job status as head coach at Syracuse. The Orange have won the games they’ve been supposed to win, and have lost the games they were supposed to lose handily. Right now, people are trying to figure out if SU is a bad, good team or a good, bad team, and just the other day, ESPN released an article about the buzz around the nation regarding the college football coaching carousel.
The World Wide Leader split coaches/jobs up into five categories: open jobs, hot seats, cooling seats, bargain candidates, and coaches and coordinators generating interest. Babers fell into the ‘cooling seats’ category, likely because of Syracuse’s 4-2 record and four-game win streak to start the year, the first time SU had started a season 4-0 in back-to-back years since 1960. Here’s what Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Senior Writer, had to say about Babers.
“Babers is in a familiar spot after his second consecutive strong start to the season. Syracuse won its first four games, including a road win at Purdue, before consecutive lopsided losses to Clemson and No. 14 North Carolina. A third straight loss to ACC frontrunner Florida State certainly is forgivable, but Syracuse lost five in a row and six of its last seven last season following a 6-0 start. The Orange are generally playing well, especially on defense under guru Rocky Long, but Babers could need a good finish against beatable competition (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest).”
It remains to be seen if Syracuse, likely 4-3 after this week’s trip to Tallahassee to take on #4 Florida State, can conjure up another 2-3 wins from the schedule it has remaining. Babers is notorious for fall-offs the later a season gets aside from the outlier 2018 season, especially on the road. Three out of Syracuse’s last five games are going to be played outdoors, and away from the JMA Wireless Dome.
As Rittenberg detailed, they are all winnable games, but it remains to be seen if the Orange will have the depth to handle these matchups, especially in trips to Virginia Tech on Thursday, October 26th, Yankee Stadium to face Pittsburgh on November 11th, and Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on November 18th. Home games against Boston College and Wake Forest are winnable, but they will not be pushovers like the first couple of games of the season were.
When Syracuse was 4-0, it looked like an eight or nine-win regular season was possible. Now, SU might be lucky to get to seven wins based on how the last couple of games have gone and how the roster is trending in terms of health and performance. The Orange are making changes in the secondary, they’ve lost pieces on an already undersized defensive line, and the receiving core is continuing to have an extremely difficult time getting open against talented secondaries. The pressure is only going to heighten the longer this stretch of poor play continues, and Babers might get more criticism and calls for his job because of it.