New Syracuse head coach Dino Babers is bringing a system that has worked to the tune of a 37-16 career head coaching record to Central New York. The Orange roster has talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Young players such as Eric Dungey, Jordan Fredericks, Dontae Strickland, Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips all contributed in 2015.
How do those players fit into coach Babers' system? That is something he does not even know yet, and may not until spring football begins. That time of the year is one of his favorites.
“I want to hold on that because the big thing is I want to see people move,” Babers said. “Some people are excited for Christmas and the holidays. I’m excited for spring ball. That’s going to be my Christmas and that’s going to be my holidays where I can actually get out there and see people move. And I can go, you know what? He moves really good even though he’s a running back. Maybe he should be a defensive back.
"It’s another situation where we don’t move people in our program, we ask them. ‘Hey, we really think you’re better at this. We’re doing it because we think it’s going to get you on the field. Are you interested in it, or are you would you like to stay in the position you’re at behind the people that you are.’ And they’ll make that decision, not us.”
So how much wiggle room does Babers have within his system? How much flexibility is there in order to tailor it to the players currently on the roster? He believes his past success proves they can make it things work regardless of how the current roster is constructed.
“Well, this is the third time that I’ve done it,” Babers said. “One school we went and they had won three games the previous two years before I got there. We won a conference championship my first year because we moved the pieces around, and the young men were unselfish enough to realize. I said, ‘if you do this we’ll win. If you do this we’ll win.’ They were unselfish enough do it. We won a conference championship. We went from worst to first in the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference). It’s only been done three times in the history of the conference and the conference is one of the oldest conferences in the United States. It was a really major accomplishment.
"Then, at Bowling Green State University, it was a predominantly run oriented football team. We turned it over and won a conference championship our first year there. Now, we didn’t win the total championship, we won the eastern side of it. But being able to do that in our first year with, our starting quarterback got hurt in the first game of the season, our backup quarterback and changing a running team to a throwing team, I think it might have been one of my staff’s best coaching jobs we’ve done in the last four years.”
Change was destined to come to Syracuse with a coaching staff move like Athletics Director Mark Coyle has made. With Dino Babers at the helm, that change may be quite noticeable. Players shifting positions, a different way of conditioning and training in order to fit the system and different philosophies on both sides of the ball.
With his track record of success, there could be somewhat quick turnaround for the Orange.