Any time an athletics department undergoes major changes at the top, particularly in the wake of an NCAA investigation, people are going to begin asking questions about the job security of people at various levels throughout the staff. With the reassignment of now former athletics director Daryl Gross, and the indication that Jim Boeheim will be retiring in three years, the next obvious question to come up is: how secure should Syracuse University football coach Scott Shafer feel at this point in time?
And the answer, frankly, is that these recent changes shouldn’t, and almost certainly won’t, impact Shafer or his staff. Since arriving at Syracuse in 2009, Shafer has become a beloved member of the community, and a figure that recruits repeatedly point to as a major factor in their decision to come play for the Orange.
Most importantly as part of the fallout of the NCAA investigation is the fact that none of the incidents revolving around the Orange football team has occurred in the time Shafer has been at Syracuse. The football program, like the basketball team, will be on a five year probation period levied by the NCAA. Obviously, that could certainly change when the University appeals. Chances are, it’ll be reduced, particularly as that’s the only penalty imposed on the football team.
Shafer certainly isn’t backing down from the responsibilities of being a head coach of a major sport – in his case, the most major collegiate sport in America. This includes overseeing his program and keeping track of what his student-athletes are doing both in the classroom and in their personal activities, in addition to the obvious monitoring of their involvement with the football program.
“It’s a difficult task, but it’s one we signed up for,” said Shafer earlier this week. “When you sign up for that job, you take it head on and you can’t make excuses.”
Obviously, when it comes to job security, any time a new athletics director comes to town there’s going to be a rumor or two swirling about potential additional changes. After all, when Daryl Gross became the AD at Syracuse, one of his first actions was to replace Paul Pasqualoni, who had been on the sidelines for the Orangemen for 14 seasons. Still, this is a much different situation. Pasqualoni’s recruiting had taken a substantial downturn, and a good portion of the fandom was clamoring for a change.
When it comes to Shafer, on the other hand, he’s still only two years into his tenure at Syracuse. He’s been to – and won – a bowl game, and then had an injury plagued season against one of the most difficult schedules in college football last season. Last season was full of turmoil, not just due to the injury bug, but also the change in offensive philosophy that came with Tim Lester being promoted to offensive coordinator in the middle of the season.
Now, however, Terrel Hunt is back under center after missing the second half of last season, and Lester will have had an entire offseason in which to install his new offense. Winning is the best job security of all, and there’s no reason to think that Shafer and his staff can’t win between 6-8 regular season games next season, the way the schedule is currently set up.
For that reason alone, whoever enters the picture as the new athletics director will have no reason to want to replace Shafer – a figure that SU chancellor Kent Syverud thinks very highly of, by the way. Throw in the fact that Shafer and his staff have been tearing things up on the recruiting trail, and are making in roads with some elite level prospects in the class of 2016, and all signs are pointing to Shafer being in extremely good shape to be the head coach of the Syracuse Orange for the foreseeable future.
Shafer is creating a strong culture within the Syracuse University football program, and there’s every reason to believe he’ll have all the opportunity in the world to continue building on the strong foundation that’s been put in place, no matter who the new athletics director turns out to be.