At the beginning of 2019, it seemed Syracuse was on the cusp of joining, well, no one as a legitimate threat to Clemson’s orange and purple supremacy in the ACC. After all, the Orange had finished No. 15 in the AP poll in 2018, beat Clemson in 2017 and nearly did the same in ’18.
The 2019 season has now come and gone and Syracuse was revealed to be just another mediocre ACC team. The Orange halved their win total, from 10 to five, and as a result Dino Babers will have two new coordinators going into 2020.
Zach Arnett, who is not me with a typo, has been announced as the Orange’s new defensive coordinator. He arrives via San Diego State; ironically, Rocky Long interviewed for the same job before announcing his retirement earlier this week. New head Aztec Brady Hoke is reportedly cleaning house despite the program’s nine winning seasons in nine tries under Long and its four 10-win campaigns in the last five years, and so Arnett is out and up.
“Zach is a very talented coach,” Babers said. “He learned under a great defensive mind in Rocky Long at San Diego State and excelled when he got the opportunity to run the defense there. His qualities, both as a person and as a professional, are an excellent fit for our program.”
That opening was known, as Brian Ward was fired in November. The other was not.
According to the Lake Charles (La.) American Press and FootballScoop (which in this case is me), Babers is reuniting with Sterlin Gilbert as his offensive coordinator. The pair worked together previously at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green from 2012-14, and it was a profitable time for both. Babers went 20-13 as head coach, success that eventually landed him the Syracuse job, while Gilbert went on to coordinate offenses for Tulsa, Texas and South Florida.
He is currently the head coach at McNeese, an FCS school in Louisiana.
Gilbert’s hiring is news to the public, and it also may be news to his staff. He’ll coach quarterbacks on top of running the offense, which means one or both of Mike Lynch (offensive coordinator/running backs) and Kirk Martin (quarterbacks) is about to be moved, demoted or fired.