Syracuse, New York. – Let's go back to December 7th, 2015.
Dino Babers electrified everyone with his famous "Close Your Eyes" speech after being introduced as the new head coach for football in Syracuse.
The flash points begin shortly thereafter.
Syracuse upset Virginia Tech in 2016, leading to yet another epic speech from Babers.
"You didn't know! It's not your fault!"
Syracuse's epic win over Clemson # 2 followed in 2017.
Another big win brought another big speech.
“What about the noisy house tonight? We only saw a sea of oranges. Orange waves. Everything orange! "
Syracuse won 10 games in 2018, signaling a revival of a historic program.
No speeches were required then. The first 10-win season in Syracuse since 2001 and the return to the top 25 was a statement.
We could have faded the scene of Babers and former orange quarterback Eric Dungey, smiling on the podium and accepting the Camping World Bowl trophy, to credits and having a blockbuster on our hands.
At that moment, things didn't go black for football in Syracuse, but there has been a lot of darkness since then.
Syracuse has lost 6-15 since defeating West Virginia. Only one of these victories was achieved in 2020.
The program is in free fall and the man who seemed to be the hero of our story can now live long enough to become the villain.
Look back at the words from Baber's first speech as Orange head coach in 2015.
“You have a defense that is relentless. They have a special team that has been well trained. You have an offense that does not agglomerate. You have a game that is faster than ever on grass. Open your eyes. It becomes a reality. This will be Syracuse football. "
As it stands five years later, only one of the energetic statements made that day would pass the smell test.
The defense of Syracuse football could be described as "relentless" as it currently leads the nation with 20 takeaways.
Babers seems to have hit the right note when hiring Tony White to revive his defenses, but let's not forget how deep a hole was a year ago.
I wouldn't describe a specialty team that had multiple mistakes in Louisville on Friday night as "well trained," even though players like Riley Dixon, Sterling Hofrichter and Andre Szymt prove that Syracuse can win the talent of a specialty team for the Dome.
The Syracuse crime, Babers' main selling point for reviving orange football after Scott Shafer's era, who lost eight straight games in 2015, is one of the worst in college football today.
Syracuse rarely goes on the offensive at breakneck speed these days. It's a 30-0 loss that saw zero points, 137 yards total, and five first losses against an average Louisville defense.
Syracuse has one of the worst college football crimes averaging just 263 yards per game. It's also one of the worst teams in third place in the FBS, having only implemented 27 out of 119 attempts (23 percent) this season.
Orange's offensive line is a turnstile for defenders to attack quarterback of the week, currently freshman JaCobian Morgan trying to find his way.
Babers and offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert offer boring fixtures that Vanille herself would point out and describe as boring.
Skill position players sit alone on the field waiting for the ball like the island of mismatched toys desperately looking for the arrival of Santa Claus.
The sad fact is that "Orange is the new fast," once a selling point, is now the rate at which Baber's program is declining.
According to Syracuse AD John Wildhack, Babers will return as head coach in 2021.
A recent contract renewal, eagerly requested by some of the same fans who asked for change after Baber's' 10 winning season in 2018, ensures that.
Paying Babers a large sum (an estimated $ 15 million at this point in the contract) not to coach Syracuse and then hiring a new coach (likely with his own buyout) doesn't add up, especially during a pandemic.
Add to that the insane run of injuries and opt-outs Syracuse has seen in 2020 and Wildhack has all the reasons he needs to keep babers on board.
Can babers find a way to save Syracuse football again? =
Can a recruiting class that Babers calls the "Best Ever," and the right mix of health, returning players, and reinforcement from the transfer portal get Syracuse back on track?
Regardless of whether the world is back to normal in 2021 or not, his seat will be very toasted.
Babers maintains the belief that he can do it.
"Of course, I am extremely disappointed," said Babers on Friday. "But I'm also encouraged about what can happen later. And I have to keep that positive mindset because I really believe that's key. When you're going through so much pain in the negative, then there is better an advantage of wobbling where you will be able to have many positives. "
This feels like the part of the sports movie where we've just seen a montage of tough times and need a great speech from the coach to inspire.
We know Babers can give a good speech.
I just wouldn't use the "close your eyes" bit again, dino.
We've done a lot of this this season to watch your team.
Contact Brent Ax: Email | Twitter
MORE ORANGE FOOTBALL:
According to former Syracuse soccer teammate, Floyd Little has entered hospice care
A young SU soccer team is wavering and one big question remains open: Who wants to fix this? (Warehouse clock)
Cardinal Crush: Syracuse Football loses 30-0 to Louisville (recap by Brent Ax)
Syracuse's frustrating season came to a head with an embarrassing loss (instant takeaways)
Syracuse football's 10-win season feels like a million years ago (what they say).