Scott Shafer squarely on the Hot Seat
Halfway through a season that some called a “job saving” year for Shafer because of the advantageous scheduling, and following yet another disappointing loss to a team that had 1 win prior to their match-up against SU, Scott Shafer is deservedly sitting on the hot seat; something that I’m sure Bud Poliquin will soon be eagerly writing about (since he is the Tina Belcher of sports commentary and writing about butts is kind of his thing).
Yes, the officiating against UVA was abysmal (and may have set a precedent to redefine the term “forward pass”) but Shafer’s poor clock management down the stretch, Chuck Bullough’s bend-and-then-break Defense did everything to keep UVA in the game, and Lester’s questionable calls early in the game cost Syracuse a chance for victory in a “winnable” game and made the chances of going bowling much, much harder and the InstaSnapTwitBook folks are not happy.
With new AD Mark Coyle on the job and ostensibly evaluating everything, I can only imagine that Coyle is making contingency plans for a coaching replacement in December should the season fail to result in a Bowl game.
With current openings at both USCs and Maryland, and possibly head coaching positions available at P5 schools such as UVA (unless Shafer just saved London’s job for him) and Illinois (if Cubit doesn’t stay on), the coaching carousel will likely have major moves this year which means pool for potential Head Coach replacements is very shallow. This could be a saving grace for Shafer because without a replacement that is a bona fide improvement, you may as well keep HCSS around another year for recruiting purposes and to reduce his buyout.
Here’s my short list:
- Doug Marrone – “St. Doug” is credited with turning the SU football program around following the GRob debacle, with credit due to Shafer for his defense and recruiting. Now that Dougie has made his multi-millions in the NFL, would the SU alum return to his “dream job” to right the ship? Although most fans would resent him for departing the way he did, but I would be very excited to see Marrone back on the sidelines – especially with the influx of talent the program has had over the past few years. Look at what Marrone and Hackett were able to accomplish with Ryan Nassib; now imagine the possibilities with a more athletic version of Nassib and more weapons on offense.
- Greg Schiano – As everyone around me knows: I hate Rutgers, and Greg Schiano is a primary reason for that. The guy just looks like a shady coach and everyone outside of East Rutherford knows that Rutgers built-up their program feasting on lesser opponents and taking advantage of a weakened Big East. Having said that, the guy can recruit, and he can win.
- Bill Cubit – Scott Shafer has never shied-away from his coaching tree roots, and many of the current staffers share past coaching gigs with Shafer at schools like Northern Illinois and Western Michigan under Bill Cubit, so it is somewhat surprising that Cubit has not been part of the offensive coaching staff at SU under Shafer. Although Cubit has done very well this year with their interim coach, could the Illini want to get a “big name” in coaching and jettison Cubit? Another useless trivia factoid courtesy of Wikipedia: Bill Cubit’s brother, Mark, played basketball at SU under Jim Boeheim.
- Dino Babers – The typical route for getting coaches in the ACC is to pilfer head coaches from a non-P5 conference like the MAC. This has worked for NC St. and I think will eventually work for Wake the Forest. Syracuse would be remiss if they didn’t go after a talented, up-and-coming head coach like Babers who was 19-7 in two years at Eastern Illinois (14-1 in conference) and is currently 32-15 at Bowling Green. Ironically, Babers replaced Dave Clawson after the latter left to take the Head Coaching gig at WtF.
- Matt Campbell – Staying in the “hire from the MAC” vein, Toledo’s head coach, and winner of the Nick Foles look-alike contest, Matt Campbell, has been impressive in his four years at Toledo compiling a 32-13 record with 2 bowl wins. Unfortunately for Cuse fans, Campbell was the offensive coordinator in 2011 when Syracuse mysteriously made a missed PAT, so hopefully his grudge against the Orange has passed.
- Everett Withers – Nabbing an FCS coach may not go over well in the Syracuse blogosphere, where snarky comments are Syracuse’s chief export, but WIthers has had a great run at James Madison over the past 2 years (23-10) and was a finalist for the FCS Coach of Year. Further, he is no stranger to the ACC. Following the departure of Butch Davis at UNC, Withers was promoted to the Head Coaching position and filled-in during a difficult time for the Tar Heels. Of course, giving Syracuse’s recent difficulties with the NCAA, hiring a HC that was once part of a highly investigated program (and refused to help the investigation at UNC) is likely the last thing that the new AD wants to do.
Syracuse is at a very tenuous spot; they cannot afford a bad hire that could set them back several years and the likelihood of a new coach coming in and installing a new system is very low. Shafer’s ceiling for wins next year could be the same as that for a new coach. Without a “slam dunk” head coaching hire, a new coach could have the same ceiling for wins next year that Shafer & Co. have. The question is does the Syracuse AD trust Shafer as a long term coach for the program, or is it better to take the hit sooner than later.