Thursday, October 16, 2008

WVU-Syracuse Wrap Up Q&A Part 1

Originally, I had planned on running the answers to these questions from Orange Squeeze and Orange 44 in the same post. But given the detail and greatness of the answers, I'll run them as a two part series.

First off, here's the response from AEM at Orange Squeeze. Thanks again to AEM for reaching out to me to begin with. Here are my answers to AEM's questionsI wish I would have had time for discussion with the rest of my blog friends in the Syracuse blogosphere. So I'll make up for it with links-Troy Nunes-Hoya Suxa-Three Idiots. Now on to the questions and best of luck the rest of the way.

1. Even though you didn't win either the Pitt or WVU game, did either or both of those games give you a sense that things could turn around with the right person running the program?

Yes is the simple (and short) answer.

The more complex answer is a long (and somewhat harsh) one. This team right now has had several different offensive coordinators under the Robinson regime, a new coaching staff would probably mean yet again changing the OC. Meaning that these players would once again be learning a whole new system. The other major part of a college coach, the recruiting, is pretty dead as of right now, and that will take time for anyone to rebuild the pipelines that were once Syracuse's and now are of other NE teams.

The right person that comes to SU has to be one that wants to stay here for a long while, because it is going to take more than a couple of seasons in order to begin fixing this program (please make sure to read that again, "begin" is the key word). So, yes, the right person can turn the program around, the keys are: 1) will the right person want to come to Syracuse when many other big programs will be looking for a new coach, 2) will the right person want to stay here for the time needed to straighten out this program, because a guy that uses this program as a stepping stone, staying here 2-3 years isn't going to be the solution, and finally 3) will the right guy see enough money to be lured to Syracuse.

2. I've gone on and on about what is lacking with West Virginia's 2008 team. Give me your take, after watching this past weeks game, on what is wrong with the Mountaineers? Is it a matter of x's and o's, intensity, or both?

I played this game for a long time, I played it at the Division I level, and what I saw in the WVU's game plan was a "don't lose the game" mentality, almost as Bill Stewart was saying "we don't have Pat White, let's win this and then see what's what when he is back" to his team.

I was taught that a good coach will put its team as a whole, and the players individually, in the best position to succeed. That wasn't happening during the second half of the game for the Mountaineers, and those kids out there aren't dumb, they know what is going on. If you send in a play that has no chance to gain 15 yards when it's 3rd and very long the players are let down, and even though they go and execute to the best of their ability, subconsciously they know that this isn't going to work.

Momentum and home field advantage has so much to do with winning at the college level. When you have your fans booing you have lost both of those things. I thought on one of those third and long's I would see a bomb thrown, and even if intercepted it would be like a punt, just to get the crowd back into the game. If it goes incomplete, at least WVU tried. All I saw were very safe plays that might not yield a turnover, but won't gain much either.

So to answer the question, if the x's and o's aren't being put in properly, then the intensity of the team goes down, it's a vicious cycle and one that almost (and should have) cost West Virginia the game.

3. Who were you impressed with and on the flip side, disappointed with for WVU?

Sorry, have to give you the "played way too much football" answer. While most people don't consider them players, I thought the one that really kept WVU in the game was the kicker. Four kicks inside the 20 (out of seven he had to make). Just one a touch back, you have to like that as a special team coach. In the battle of field position Pat McAfee helped out his team a lot Saturday.

On the negative, I will have to go with Jarrett Brown. While 14 for 20 is great percentage wise (70% completion rate) a quarterback that throws for 52 yards in all isn't going to help his team to win. Factor in that one of the passes was for 16 yards, making the other 13 go for a net of 36 yards, that is less than 3 yard per.

4. Point that back at the Orange, who has exceeded expectations and who has fell short for Syracuse?

He hasn't exceeded expectations, since he had said before the season he wanted to get 1,200 yards, Curtis Brinkley is doing one heck of a job running the ball, especially when you see that the passing game isn't much for the Orange and the defenses can load the box against him.

For the one I am disappointed in it is someone that didn't play against the Mountaineers, and that would be ex starting quarterback Andrew Robinson. Having watched him since he came to SU I think that this year he regressed. Maybe because he was once again under a new play book (as I talked about before) or maybe because he went from having two great wide receivers (Mike Williams and Taj Smith) last year, to having almost nothing this season. Whatever it was it just seemed that this year he was not the player that most people thought we would see.

5. Instead of looking at who will be the next coach at SU, let's talk about the qualities you are looking for in the the next coach. Is it important that he be an alumnus, or do you put more weight on things like a proven track record or familiarity recruiting the northeast?

If you check every single team in the North East they all have one thing in common, except for Syracuse, they all have a head coach that is from the NE and has worked in this part of the country. It takes a lot of talent to go into the South and bring players this way, and if you aren't from here you won't know how to do it (in my opinion).

If I was the search committee I would forget big time names, head coaches that were in big programs, and I would look for someone that is an assistant and would do cartwheels in order to get a job at SU. Or in other words I would be looking for someone that coming to the `Cuse is going to be a step up and not a side step or worst, a step down. Let's face it, every time I hear the name Kiffin and am told "he was the recruiter at USC" I laugh, because if anyone thinks that recruiting at one of the best programs in the last decade is going to be anything like recruiting at one of the worst programs in the last year, well, I got news for them, it's not!

I can still remember when the buzz about Greg Robinson was positive, and all were saying "he comes from Texas", as though that was going to get something. What did that do for Syracuse exactly? The answer is: Nothing! Texas and USC are full of five star players, SU is lucky to get one per season (if that). It is sad for me to say this, but right now SU needs a coach that deals with 2-3 stars recruits and gets the most out of them, not one that opens its door everyday and can pick whomever they want.

6. Who's going to win the Big East this year, and do they have a shot in hell of winning their BCS game?

I think it is going to be UConn and I think that they will lose against whomever they play. The Big East is down and it needs to bulk up its teams and not watch them slide like Rutgers is doing this season, or Syracuse has for a while, or Pittsburgh who has until this season.

7. Will the Big East still be composed of 16 teams, or will the football schools break away in 2010?

The Big East of 16 teams is ruining basketball in my opinion. There will come a year (and this one could be it) where 9 or 10 teams are good enough to get into March Madness, but because of some bubble busters in small conference post season tournament, or because another BCS conference has an extra team that is good as well and the BE will have one, or even two, teams missing the NCAA tournament.

This goes for all of college basketball conferences that do this and not just the Big East. How can you have real standings when not all the teams play one another equally? Unfortunately the needs of a basketball conference are totally different than one of a football conference. In the BE where half of the conference doesn't play football, you know something has to give, because the needs of 8 teams are going to be different than the needs of the other eight.


Brian Harrison said...

I'd like to point out I'm actually in that picture standing right behind the Orange Girl clapping. That was taken during the 2005 football season during the West Virginia game I believe. Niiice.

Also, great job as always AEM.


Johnny said...

Cool, Brian. Must have been the BMOC! The only time I get close to the field, the state troopers have the mace out.