Let's be honest, the prolonged search for the next Syracuse head coach could not have come at a worse time. On August 30, 2007 Syracuse came out and laid a major egg in their season opener against Washington, losing 42-12. At that point in time, every Syracuse football fan had his or her worst fear realized - from that moment on it was clear Greg Robinson would not be able to get the program back on track.
So we've waited. Four years of bad losses, two seasons of utter hopelessness and now close to a month knowing that someone new would be strolling the sidelines next year. Patience is thin and rumors and speculation are running rampant. All we want is an announcement on who the next person will be and all we can do is wait.
Unfortunately for us the search has dragged into a lull in the basketball season. The team is off for 10 days and the only news of substance that is going on is a hearing on yet another disciplinary problem. (Speaking of which, I'm hearing nothing but bad rumors about that mess - none of it confirmed - but that's what happens when people have time on their hands, they spin up the worst possible scenarios.) So at a time when we could all use some news to take our minds off a coaching searching mired in secrecy (which is fine - just get the hire right) we've got nothing.
So, where's the the search at? No one knows for sure, but Mike Locksley won't be roaming the sidelines, as he's accepted the head job at New Mexico State today. Donnie said tonight that Gross told him he should have an announcement in the near future. Most speculation centers around any where from four to 10 guys who could be in the running.
Personally I've been thinking a lot about two guys, Skip Holtz and Turner Gill. Neither of which ultimately may end up as the next coach, but they've certainly been discussed a lot. Here are a few thoughts on both.
I've heard this sentiment echoed from a few of my friends as well, so it's certainly not a unique thought, but I'm not crazy about him and I'm not sure why. I think its because I dislike his father his so much. I don't deny Lou's success as a football coach, but that doesn't mean I have to like him. I've never liked Notre Dame, I've never liked Lou's whiny press conferences as a coach or the fact that as an announcer he's got a speech impediment and occasionally compares people to Hitler and gets away with it. You couple all those things with the fact that Lou acts as his son's de facto spokesman and I have misgivings about Lou loitering in the background of Syracuse football for the next four or five years.
The closest thing I can equate it to would be if Dick Vitale had a son who was being considered as the next basketball coach at Syracuse. I mean, no matter what the son's qualifications are, it's tough to focus on the candidate.
Once I put aside those thoughts (which have nothing to do with how Skip would perform as a coach) and look at what the younger Holtz has done in his career, he's certainly got the pedigree and the resume to get the job done. Even though I can't stand his dad, he obviously learned a ton about football from the old man. Skip has won at Connecticut, he's won at East Carolina and he can win in the Big East. I'd certainly be satisfied, but not pumped up over Holtz. Will he be the next coach at Syracuse? I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that when we find out, it will be his dad who is the one telling us.
Gill has been my number one choice to be the next head coach for some time. Again, I wasn't really sure why. I watch as much football as the next guy but few people, myself included, have time to study MAC games and see what the conference's coaches are doing. I think it all boils down to the fact that I went to a SUNY school - Albany to be exact. Since graduating, I've spent a career in and around State government. I know how SUNY is funded, I know how the system operates and I know that program was a complete joke. Before Gill showed up on campus I never thought it would be possible for that program to win 3 games in a season. I mean the program lost by 30 points to SU in Robinson's first season, the year before Gill showed up. He's proven he can take a program mired in a death spiral and turn it around - in three years no less.
The nagging question with Gill is, if he did come, how long would he be in Syracuse? He's rumored to be in the running for the Auburn job and his roots as a player and coach at Nebraska, along with the fact that he was born and raised in Texas, make it an easy assumption to think he'd want to get a Big 12 job as soon as one appeared. You always wonder if the guy is eyeing another prize.
I think everyone agrees that even if a coach came in for a few years and got the ship turned and then left for greener pastures, Syracuse is still in better shape than it is now.......but in the mean time, all we've got is idle speculation and that makes waiting even harder. Oh, and one more thing - even after the hire is announced, we're not going to know if it was a good one for quite some time.