Today the Syracuse Orange gave themselves the best chance to win a game in two months, as the 1-8 team was down seven to North Carolina State late in the contest at home.
It’s fourth down and goal from the 18-yard line, and a negative play means the Orange have to get set in a hurry. There’s two seconds left, they snap the ball...
This is Syracuse football in a nutshell in 2020. And people will laugh and mock them for it, and let’s be honest it is pretty funny. But this is just a microcosm of the worst team in the Power Five not named Vanderbilt or Kansas this season.
There are 127 teams competing in FBS college football this season. Syracuse is 116th in SP+ offensively. They are 125th in yards per play at 4.0 per snap. The two teams behind them? UMass and Kansas. It’s not like ‘Cuse has tons of recent football success, but they should be far, far ahead of whatever this is in Year 5 under the same head coach.
They are 125th in red zone scoring percentage, 119th in yards per rushing attempt, 117th in yards per pass attempt, and 127th in punts per score. In short, they are an abomination to ACC football. How could Dino Babers, known offensive guru that had great success at Bowling Green and previously at Syracuse with Eric Dungey under center, let things fall this far off this fast??
In the offseason, Dino Babers hired old co-worker Sterlin Gilbert to be their offensive coordinator. Here is Gilbert’s collegiate coaching resume:
2012-13: Eastern Illinois – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2014: Bowling Green – Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2015: Tulsa – Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers
2016: Texas – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2017-18: USF – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2019: McNeese State – Head Coach
2020: Syracuse – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
This is a guy that must pay for LinkedIn Premium so he can find the best jobs available and reach out to people without being known as a stalker.
And with the exception of the 2014 Bowling Green Falcons that won the Camellia Bowl with Babers as head coach, all those teams above sucked. Tulsa lost the Independence Bowl. Texas went 5-7 and got Charlie Strong fired.
2016 USF was the No. 2 offense in all of college football by SP+, and brought most of their roster back including Quinton Flowers, arguably the best player in the history of the American Conference.
2017 saw Gilbert take over, and they fell to 47th in offensive SP+. Flowers never won a conference title. 2018 USF won their first seven games... and then lost their last six. Then they fell to 69th in SP+. It was not nice.
2019 at McNeese State? Dropped the FCS program like a bad habit when the chance to get back to the FBS level came calling. Check out this piece from his less-than-one-year with the Cowboys of FCS:
Every morning Sterlin Gilbert walks into the team meeting room at McNeese State and says the same thing: “La Familia. La Familia.”
Without hesitation, every player stands up, turns to two teammates, gives them each a hug and says, “Count on me.”
This is the foundation of everything Gilbert is hoping to achieve in Lake Charles as he embarks on his first season in the cutthroat Southland Conference.
“It’s just family and being one,” he said. “You can pick on your brothers, but nobody else can. It’s really that mentality. It’s about being close and caring for each other, battling for each other, fighting for each other and not letting anybody come in and push us around.
“It all comes down to what we say: La Familia. Accountability, discipline and go to class. It all starts with family.”
You say those quotes above to your players, coaches, and fanbase, and then grab the first offer to get out of town?? McNeese was actually 7-5 after a 6-5 season before he took over... but I guess “La Familia” didn’t feel the need to put down roots in Lake Charles after all.
So yes, Syracuse is horrendous. They’ve had injuries, it’s an odd season with Covid-19, and some breaks haven’t gone their way. But any chance of finding a modicum of offensive success were thrown away before the season started, and they brought this on themselves. They will finish 2020 at 1-10, because they will head to South Bend next weekend. The spread will likely be more than 40.
And maybe someone in HR doing a reference check or two could have kept it from getting this awful.