It seems a little odd to be sitting here just one week removed from the dismissal of Scott Shafer, talking about how essential it is for Syracuse University athletics director Mark Coyle to expedite the hiring process as quickly as possible. But that’s where we are right now, for a variety of reasons. The bottom line is this: a coaching hire needs to be made absolutely as soon as possible.
Yesterday marked the start of the contact period in college football recruiting, which allows, well, contact between coaches and recruits. Specifically, between now and January 30, coaches are permitted to visit each student athlete, off campus, up to six times. That’s not including getting official visits set up, of course. That means that between now and, basically, National Signing Day, coaches can do in-home visits with recruits in six of the next nine weeks.
That is absolutely huge in recruiting, and a tremendous disadvantage right now for Syracuse with the sharks from other colleges smelling blood in the water. With no coaching staff in place, there’s no one other than Eric White and maybe one or two others manning the phones to try to keep the current commits, like Moe Neal, for instance, from entertaining the advances of other schools.
And there are no coaches in the office, effective immediately, by the way. The coaches are clearing out their offices today, and word is that several already have interviews set up with different programs. The deck is stacked against Syracuse as long as the coaching search remains in limbo. The longer this drags out, the better chance opposing schools have of getting in the ears of Syracuse commits, especially now that they can visit each of them, and Syracuse can’t do the same.
That’s not even mentioning the need for a new staff to be put in place in order to calm the nerves of current players and win them over. There was a tremendous amount of support for Scott Shafer in that locker room, and a lot of the Orange players were very unhappy with the decision made last Monday. People don’t want to believe it, but there are rumors of a mass defection, and we’re not talking just one or two student-athletes here. It’s of the utmost importance that a new coach gets to campus as soon as possible to alleviate any fears these young men have, and convince them to remain a part of Syracuse football.
Another reason it’s essential to get a deal done quickly is the simple fact that, looking around the coaching landscape, jobs are starting to fill up fast. The dominoes are falling, with Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech, Matt Campbell to Iowa State, and guys like Mark Rhule and Dino Babers rumored to be headed to Missouri and Central Florida, respectively (Babers denied this yesterday pretty vehemently, but we’ve seen that sort of thing before from coaches whose seasons aren’t quite over).
As those head coaching vacancies continue getting filled, schools like Maryland and Rutgers are going to start searching for additional coaching prospects. That means they’re going to start reaching out to whoever is on Syracuse’s list, potentially, and having a multitude of options is going to make it more difficult to close the deal on a new head coach.
A deal needs to be reached this week. From what I’ve heard, Mark Coyle is close to getting his first choice. But the longer it drags out, the more likely it is that his first choice is entertaining other options, or they simply can’t come to terms on certain aspects of the contract (think, for example, an easy buyout, or potential incentives on top of salary).
There’s been a clear frontrunner in this coaching search from the get go. Now, Mark Coyle simply needs to close the deal and get his man. Mark, if you need any inspiration, I’ve got just the thing for you: