When many people think of Syracuse athletics, they think of Jim Boeheim and the basketball program. Well, Dino Babers is trying to change that.
No, he’s not trying to challenge Boeheim for Syracuse supremacy, but he is trying to put the Orange football program back on the map. Syracuse has just one 10-win season since 1993 and none since 2001.
Babers, though, believes he can change that. Ten wins won’t happen overnight, but give him a few years, and he’ll turn Syracuse into a winner.
Luckily, he has one thing working in his favor.
“We’re the only Power 5 school with a dome,” Babers said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show, referring to the Carrier Dome. “You check the entire United States, somebody do a study on it – we’re the only Power 5 school with a dome. One of the reasons basketball is so popular is that the guys never have to play in bad weather, and the people who watch them never have to sit in bad weather. You come into the dome, it doesn’t matter what the weather is outside; it’s going to be nice, crispy, cool, and there’s going to be no rain and no wind inside that baby. So if you’re an athlete that really believes in fine-tuning their skills, what better place to do it than the Carrier Dome? For four years, six to seven home games, you’ve got 24 to 28 perfect-weather games at home. And then we’ll play the rest down South and see what happens.”
Syracuse went 4-8 in Babers’ first season but beat then-No. 17 Virginia Tech, 31-17, last October. The Hokies, by the way, pushed Clemson in the ACC Championship, ultimately falling 42-35.
Looking ahead, the Orange have an absurdly difficult schedule in 2017. They play at No. 13 LSU (Sept. 23), at No. 18 Miami (Oct. 21), at No. 3 Florida State (Nov. 4), and at No. 16 Louisivlle (Nov. 18). They also host No. 5 Clemson (Oct. 13).
“With a schedule like that comes fantastic opportunities,” Babers said. “We’re going to be going against some of the best teams in the country, some of the best teams in the nation, playing in venues that everyone in college football know about. If we can hold our own in those venues and find a way to maybe surprise somebody here or there, maybe it’ll be one of those seasons that everyone ends up talking about.”
Syracuse opens the season this Friday against Central Connecticut State. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. ET.