Take a close look at Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer’s bio and you’ll notice something doesn’t add up. He certainly has the credentials for his current post: 16 years as a defensive coordinator split between Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Stanford, Michigan and Syracuse. He has two decades as a full-time assistant, all on the defensive side of the ball dating back to when he coached defensive backs at Rhode Island from 1993-95.
That resume, coupled with his success at each stop along the way, adds up to a head coach at a BCS school.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll notice the inconsistency in Shafer’s story. The coach that called defenses at five different schools spent his playing days as a quarterback at Baldwin-Wallace College and got his start in coaching as an offensive graduate assistant at Indiana.
“I actually thought my job was going to be a quarterbacks coach in my career,” Shafer told ESPN.com. “Halfway through my first job, I got a phone call from a head coach, Floyd Keith at Rhode Island, whom I was a graduate assistant for, and he said … ‘Do you think you could coach another position?’ I said, ‘Heck, yeah.’ I just wanted to get a paycheck. I ended up on defense in the secondary.”
Now that he’s overseeing the offense for the first time since 1992, Shafer has a decision to make. Quarterback Ryan Nassib has graduated, and the Orange are juggling three contenders to find his replacement.
“I’m going to try not to get in the way of Coach [George] McDonald and Coach [Tim] Lester, but I do look forward to having a hand in developing those kids, especially from a mental approach,” said Shafer.
In the end, Shafer’s story shows the benefit in accumulating a wide range of diverse experience. Syracuse quarterbacks will surely benefit from the tutelage of a former quarterback that also happens to have the mind of a defensive coordinator.