FB : Robinson’s assistants facing uncertain future at Syracuse
Mitch Browning knows what’s probably coming. As much as he may want to ignore the truth, a lot could change for Browning in the not-too-distant future.
No sense in denying the inevitable. Such is life in the coaching business.
‘A week from Saturday, after that last ballgame, then it’s off to finding a job,’ Browning, Syracuse’s offensive coordinator, said.
It’s the unfortunate reality for all of the Orange’s assistant coaches these days. The moment head coach Greg Robinson was fired, their jobs were cast into doubt as well. Most likely, Robinson’s replacement will be given free reign to pick his own assistants, leaving the current staff in a state of limbo.
They all have at least two more games in their positions. Syracuse (2-8, 1-5 Big East) travels to South Bend, Ind., Saturday to take on Notre Dame (2:30 p.m., NBC). On Nov. 29, the Orange takes on Cincinnati in what will be the last game of Robinson’s career with Syracuse.
After that, everything is uncertain.
‘Heck yeah it is. Absolutely,’ said SU wide receivers coach Chris White. ‘We have families and we have to provide for them. We might be moving, finding another job, taking kids out of school. There’s a lot that goes into it.’
White has gone through this process before at Syracuse. He was the Orange’s tight ends coach in 2004 under former head coach Paul Pasqualoni. When Pasqualoni was fired after the season, Robinson kept White on staff.
Derrick Jackson, SU’s co-defensive coordinator, was not quite so lucky in 2006 when he was defensive tackles coach at Michigan State. Former Spartans head coach John L. Smith was fired one year into Jackson’s tenure. Mark Dantonio, Smith’s replacement, chose not to retain Jackson. Robinson hired him for the next season.
Facing the same situation now, Jackson said he hopes Syracuse’s next coach is at least willing to talk to the current group of coaches and give them a fair chance to keep their positions.
If not, the job search begins again, which Jackson said could be exciting.
‘In some cases, people look at it an opportunity to travel to an area you haven’t been to before’ Jackson said. ‘I wasn’t happy when I was let go at Michigan State, but it gave me an opportunity to come to Syracuse University, a place I grew up and respected a ton as a young man.’
Jackson admitted he may have it a little easier than some of his colleagues. He has no children, and he and his wife are flexible enough to pack up and move without much trouble. For coaches with bigger families, the situation is a bit more daunting.
With that in mind, all three coaches said they are trying not to think beyond the next two games. Like Robinson has maintained all week, this group is still the staff of Syracuse’s football program and will not tolerate being treated otherwise.
White acknowledged that it is ‘human nature to speculate about the future,’ but that practice has been no different than any other week. If anything, it has been better, with Syracuse’s players gearing up to play on national television against Notre Dame.
Still, the unpleasant truth can only be pushed aside for so long. Eventually, this season will end.
‘After that, I’ll have the chance to take a deep breath, think about what my options may or may not be,’ Jackson said. ‘Obviously, you’d love the opportunity to stay at the university, but at the end of the day, this is part of the profession.’
The plight of Syracuse’s assistant coaches is not unique. Six other Division I programs have fired their coaches this season, and the staffs at those programs are facing the same uncertainty.
Jackson said the key is keeping a good attitude through the process. No one gets into coaching for its stability.
‘If you look at it as though you’re untouchable,’ Jackson said, ‘you’re probably not a very smart individual.’
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