Syracuse coaching candidates: Who has the best plan to fix what ails the Orange?
Syracuse is probably the hardest Power 5 job in the country. Can the Orange find a coach who will turn them around?
What does Syracuse ultimately want to be?
That has to be the primary question of any potential candidate to replace Dino Babers, who was fired Sunday after eight seasons and a 41-55 overall record.
This is the hardest job in the Power 5. It has lacked innovation. And the Orange’s NIL woes have been pretty public.
One constant we have heard with this job is that the administration prefers ACC and/or head-coaching experience.
With that, a look at the potential candidates:
Al Golden, Notre Dame defensive coordinator. The Irish’s defense has been dominant in its second season under Golden, ranking No. 6 in total D, No. 5 in yards per play, No. 7 in scoring and No. 3 in passing. While talented, this unit is not loaded with future first-round picks like most of the teams it keeps company with near the top of those rankings. That speaks to coaching. Golden is 54 and spent six years in the NFL with the Lions and Bengals before the Irish hired him in 2022. His most recent head-coaching experience came at Miami, where he was fired after five seasons and a 32-25 record amid the fallout of the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Golden’s tenure at The U looks better in retrospect, as his 56.1 winning percentage is higher than current coach Mario Cristobal (47.8 percent) and on par with Manny Diaz (58.3 percent). Mark Richt, who won 66 percent of his games in three years, was the only of the last four Hurricanes coaches who truly exceeded expectations, at least so far.
Most importantly for the purposes of the Syracuse discussion, Golden, a Jersey native and Penn State grad, resurrected a Temple program that was on the brink of elimination, going 27-34 across five seasons and winning eight or more games in each of his final two campaigns in Philly. The Owls went from an independent to the MAC and are now in the AAC, and each of Temple’s ensuing three coaches (Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule, Geoff Collins) succeeded enough to get Power 5 head jobs afterward.
Golden knows how to fix tough programs. And Syracuse is as tough as it gets.