March 9, 2016
Syracuse's head football coach appeared on the ESPN morning show to talk SU Football, his former players in the NFL and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
Dino Babers needs 365 days.
That's one year, according to him, that he needs to get to know this Syracuse Orange program and these players and have them get to know him. One year to do some gardening for a program that went 14-23 in three years under coach Scott Shafer, to clean things up and see what the program can grow into.
This was one of the topics discussed by the first-year Orange head coach during his appearance on the ESPN Radio morning show 'Mike and Mike' on Tuesday. It was part of his day participating in the ESPN Car Wash.
Babers was his usual self: charismatic, relatable and in the mood to tell a few stories.
One of those stories was about how he's spent a large portion of his career coaching football at traditional basketball powerhouses. He listed off some of the schools on his resume, including UNLV, Arizona and UCLA, and then talked about how he loves coaching football at "basketball schools". Here's what else Babers had to say about that topic:
"I worked at UNLV when Tark (Jerry Tarkanian) was there when they won a National Championship. I worked at the University of Arizona when Lute Olsen won a National Championship. I was at UCLA the two years that Ben Howland (he needed some help from Greenberg to remember the last name) was there and went to the Final Four twice. But that wasn't my fault, he should've won it....Now to answer your question, I absolutely love it. I think that it's OK that Syracuse is considered a basketball school.
When you look back into our tradition, and you look at all of the great things and great football players that we had there in the past. Ernie Davis, the GOAT - Jim Brown, are you kidding me? Floyd Little, along with Don McPherson, Donovan McNabb, (Chandler) Jones, Dwight Freeney. We've had fantastic football players there. What we need to do is just bridge that past to the present so we can have an opportunity to have an outstanding future."
He was also asked about how he plans to wipe the slate clean and pick the program back up, and this is where he got into his talk about needing a year to get to know the program. Here's what he had to say about turning the program around:
"The first thing is I needed them to listen to one voice. I talked to a lot of alumni...I said please let me have 365 days with these guys. Everybody wants to help. Everybody wants to get in, and I want all of their help. But what I need to do is just circle the wagons and really get to know this football team and have the football team get to know me and my coaches.
After those 365 days of pulling out all the weeds and fertilizing it and watering it and seeding it, let's see what we can blossom into."
Babers, who brought along a big sample of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce for his hosts, began the interview by giving the audience a quick history lesson on the Syracuse hot spot:
"I'll tell you what, the story of that barbecue place is outstanding. The gentleman that owns that thing, he took a tour of the United States, all the Southern states, and was an apprentice in all the top barbecue places. Tennessee, Georgia, Texas. After he did it, I think it was about three or four years after he was an apprentice down there, he came back up to Syracuse, N.Y., and opened up his own place. It's been doing fabulous up there. If you're going to eat barbecue, that's the place."
Mike Golic: "So, he stole all their recipes when he was doing that, huh?".
Babers: "Basically, he was a good coach".
I told you he likes to tell stories. By the way, Mike Golic was so excited about the BBQ sauce that Babers brought, that he told him he'd be rooting for Syracuse in every game this year. Of course, he forgot that Syracuse is playing his alma mater, Notre Dame, at Metlife Stadium this fall.
Babers was also asked about a couple of his former college players now playing in the NFL, Josh Gordon and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Gordon, whose indefinite suspension was just lifted by the NFL for his multiple drug violations, played for Baylor when Babers was coaching there. Babers vouched for his character, saying that he trusts him to babysit his kids and be around his family. He called him an "outstanding person" and "the most talented wide receiver I've ever had", acknowledging that he's "got one issue". "I hope this time he gets it right," Babers said.
Garoppolo, who is set to start the first four games of the NFL season for the Patriots while Tom Brady serves his "Deflategate" suspension, is a player who Babers couldn't believe ended up at Eastern Illinois, where he was coaching at the time. Babers said, after seeing Garoppolo throw five passes, he thought a lot of coaches should be fired for passing him over.
Babers closed the interview by calling 'Mike and Mike' his idols, saying he watches them every morning.
Want to watch for yourself. Here's the full segment below:
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