After the news that Dino Babers was relieved of his duties as head coach, John Wildhack gave a press conference on Monday morning and in that media session, outlined what he would be looking for in a new head coach: someone with head coaching or coordinator experience at a power five level, and someone with ties to the Northeast.
The decision to fire Babers was made for a number of reasons, but the most prominent according to Wildhack were a consistent inability to win late in the season, specifically the losing streaks of the last three years, and failing to meet the threshold he set before the season of attaining a 7-5 record this year and building on the momentum of last season.
So, with that in mind, people have been talking about who could replace Babers, and the candidates are far and wide. Let’s take a look at them.
The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, one of the top college football insiders, released his list of potential candidates, but prefaced it with this:
“There had been rumblings that Syracuse was ready to move on from Babers since the offseason. Babers was a dynamic leader and had some big moments in eight years at the helm, but he never established lasting roots in the Northeast recruiting base where the Orange had enjoyed so much success. Whether this program can get back to the local connection it had a generation ago under Dick MacPherson and then Paul Pasqualoni is a big question,” Feldman wrote earlier this week.
His list of candidates includes Toledo head coach Jason Candle, James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden, former Syracuse coach and Saints offensive line coach Doug Marrone, Colorado assistant coach Sean Lewis, Holy Cross head coach Bob Chesney, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Phil Longo, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White, Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, and Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.
Of those names, Chesney and White have been the more popular among Syracuse fans considering their Northeast ties or past success at Syracuse. A clip of Matt Rhule talking about White went pretty viral in Syracuse circles earlier in the week in regards to taking “the right job” and what that entails, if it was a shot at Syracuse or not.
Whatever the case may be, it is clear this will be a vast search, and Wildhack emphasized in his press conference that there was plenty of interest in the position and that he would be moving swiftly in his search to fill the role. It’s the biggest hire of Wildhack’s career as athletic director at Syracuse and maybe the only time he’ll get to hire a football coach depending on how this one goes.