Syracuse football fires coach Scott Shafer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse became the latest school to join in the search for a new coach when Scott Shafer was fired on Monday, two days after the team's eighth straight loss.
Shafer will finish out his third season when the Orange host Boston College on Saturday. He had one more year left on his contract, but too many injuries, too much losing, and too many empty seats at the Carrier Dome sealed his fate.
"I feel a change in leadership is needed at this time," athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement.
The Orange (3-8, 1-5 ACC) started the season with three wins before the losses began piling up. The latest was 42-29 to North Carolina State on Saturday.
Shafer is the latest of more than a dozen coaches to be either be fired, retire or resign. Among other schools looking or will soon be looking for a new coach are USC, Miami, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Coyle, hired as athletic director in June, had not spoken publicly about Shafer's future since issuing a wait-and-see approach before the season. The Orange finished 3-9 last season after a 2-0 start, and Shafer has gone just 2-13 in the ACC the past two years.
Syracuse has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons, especially at quarterback.
Last year, Terrel Hunt started the first five games before suffering a season-ending broken calf bone against Louisville. A senior captain this year, Hunt suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener and again was lost for the season.
Freshman Eric Dungey was then tabbed as the starter, but he suffered a concussion in the third game of the season and has missed three games, including the past two. Junior college walk-on Zach Mahoney, who enrolled at Syracuse last January, has started three times, the first two coming against LSU and Clemson.
Still, Syracuse hung tough at home against highly ranked LSU in September and against top-ranked Clemson more recently, losing each game by 10 points. On the road, the Orange went 0-5, with four of the losses by more than three touchdowns.
The losing has been affecting some players. Early in the fourth quarter of the latest loss, wide receiver Brisly Estime was ejected after getting into a skirmish with N.C. State cornerback Juston Burris. Fellow Orange receiver Steve Ishmael was ejected later, picking up his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game after catching a 3-yard touchdown pass with 2:37 remaining.
The previous week against Clemson, Shafer was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after protesting a call by the officials.
Shafer was Syracuse's defensive coordinator for four seasons before taking over in 2013 for Doug Marrone, who left for the Buffalo Bills. Shafer led Syracuse to a 7-6 record his first season, including a win over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl.
Shafer worked his way up the coaching ranks before getting the Syracuse job. His 24-year career included assistant jobs at Indiana, Rhode Island, Northern Illinois, Illinois, and Western Michigan before he landed the defensive coordinator job under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.
Shafer coached at Stanford for one season (2007) before being hired away by Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. He resigned after one subpar season with the Wolverines before Marrone hired him in 2009.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org
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