After pulling off a miracle and taking down defending national champion Clemson, Syracuse is basking in the national football limelight for the first time in years. And as a result, second-year Orange head coach Dino Babers is in the running for ACC Coach of the Year honors. Mark Richt and Dave Doeren are also in the conversation for ACCCOY. But Babers has rapidly emerged as one of the hottest names in the league.
Babers has a reputation as an offensive mastermind – the architect of offenses at Bowling Green and Syracuse that have played at a breakneck pace.
After averaging just under 63 offensive plays per game in 2015, Scott Shafer’s final season at SU, the Orange were averaging over 85 plays per game heading into the Miami game. Though the Orange lost to the undefeated Canes, 27-19, they once again played hard and put up a strong fight against one of the nation’s top teams.
The Orange aren’t averaging much more yardage – 5.3 yards per play, to 5.1 yards per play in 2015. But the sheer number of plays the Syracuse offense is running means the Orange are averaging more than 130 more offensive yards per game than two seasons ago.
Along with the dramatic uptick in offensive production, Babers is a perfect 36-0 in his career as a college head coach when his teams are leading after three quarters. This year’s Syracuse squad is among the national leaders in third down defense. They’ve remarkably held opponents to just two conversions on 33 third down attempts in the first half of games in the Carrier Dome.
Babers has also significantly upgraded Syracuse’s recruiting. Although the Orange’s first two classes haven’t been highly-ranked nationally, they’ve been loaded with speed and athleticism. The Orange staff has scoured the JUCO ranks, as well as South Florida and its traditional recruiting stronghold of the Northeast. Syracuse signed a total of ten prospects from Florida in Babers’ first two signing classes (2016 and 2017), and has five more committed in the 2018 class.
Does all this mean that Babers could emerge as a candidate for other head coaching jobs around the country this offseason?
If so, one potential option for Babers could be Texas A&M. Babers served as offensive coordinator of the Aggies in 2001 and 2002, and his daughter attended the school as a volleyball player. This past summer, Jazzmin Babers married Texas A&M offensive lineman Koda Martin.
Kevin Sumlin cooled his rather hot seat with the Aggies after knocking off Florida on Oct. 14. But with remaining games against the likes of Mississippi State, Auburn, and LSU, Texas A&M could still be staring at a four or five-loss regular season if things fall apart. And if that happens, Sumlin’s job will be in serious jeopardy.
Along with Texas A&M, there could be multiple other job openings in the SEC come November and December. Tennessee’s Butch Jones, Ole Miss’s temporary head coach Matt Luke, Missouri’s Barry Odom, and Arkansas’s Bret Bielema will all be coaching for their jobs over the next several weeks. Other potential high-profile job openings include UCLA and Nebraska.
For those programs that will be looking for a head coach this offseason, Dino Babers will have to be a guy to take a serious look at.