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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Syracuse objective: Continuity under Shafer

By Andrea Adelson

The buzzword today and the rest of the week at Syracuse: #continuity.

That is what the Orange desperately need. And that is why athletic director Daryl Gross turned to defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, a man completely immersed in the Orange turnaround who knows what it takes to finish the job Doug Marrone began. That, above all else, is the No. 1 priority as Syracuse moves into the ACC.

Not splashy, flashy hires.

Not winning news conferences.

Merely winning.

In the end, this was the only move -- the best move -- Gross could make. Hiring coaches in January is vastly different from hiring coaches in early December. Gross said as much during a radio interview earlier this week. When head coaches move on so late in the process, college teams have a tendency to promote from within for a host of reasons. There is a time crunch. There is recruiting. There are talented coaches on staff deserving of an opportunity. There is the hope for continuity.

Stanford did it two years ago when Jim Harbaugh moved on. David Shaw just won the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl.

Rutgers did it last year when Greg Schiano moved on. Kyle Flood just won Co-Big East Coach of the Year honors and led the Scarlet Knights to a share of their first-ever league title.

Where Syracuse differs, however, is where this program stands. Schiano spent 11 seasons building Rutgers; Harbaugh won an Orange Bowl. Syracuse is in a much more tenuous spot than those two programs, when you consider the looming conference move and its inability to string together success on a consistent basis. Harbaugh only stuck around Stanford for four years -- the same as Marrone at Syracuse.

Both inherited giant messes. But Harbaugh did have winning seasons his final two years there, including the BCS berth. Syracuse has not posted winning records in consecutive seasons since 2000-01.

The goal, of course, is to get back to the BCS and make Syracuse nationally relevant again. Shafer has shown his defenses are perfectly capable of leading the way, especially after some monster games this year against Louisville and West Virginia. Of most immediate concern is replacing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, headed to Buffalo with Marrone.

And while promoting from within has worked some places (see: Stanford) and not at others (see: West Virginia), this decision is a no-brainer. Shafer knows what to do. Continuing the momentum is up to him.