Scott Shafer’s last game at Syracuse comes against BC
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Like Greg Robinson seven years ago, Syracuse coach Scott Shafer enters the final game of the regular season knowing it’s his last as head man of the Orange.
Might not be such good news for Saturday’s foe, Boston College (3-8, 0-7 ACC). Eagles coach Steve Addazio, a former assistant at Syracuse, is well aware of what he and the Eagles are facing as two long-time Northeast rivals riding big losing streaks get set to play.
Shafer was fired on Monday but will coach the finale of his third season at Syracuse (3-8, 1-6).
“You don’t know what to expect. I’ve seen it all,” Addazio said. “You can see an emotionally charged team on the last home game for the seniors, which you usually are going to get. You can see a letdown. You could see anything.”
Neither Shafer nor any of the players was made available this week to reporters.
The situation is similar to when Robinson was fired in 2008 with two games left in what ended as a 3-9 season. His team gave him a nice surprise with a stunning one-point victory at Notre Dame the week after his firing was announced. The Irish loss to a 19 1/2-point underdog allowed Syracuse to avoid a third 10-loss season in four years under Robinson and ranks among the worst in Notre Dame football history.
Like Robinson, Shafer had one year left on a contract that pays him seven figures, and these Orange likely will be intent on sending coach “Shafe” out in style, too. A Syracuse win would snap an eight-game losing streak and extend BC’s to eight.
The snake-bitten Eagles are coming off a 19-16 loss to No. 4 Notre Dame at Fenway Park, a game in which the Eagles top-ranked defense forced five turnovers, three with the Irish inside the BC 5-yard line.
“I think our team is very special,” said senior defensive back Justin Simmons, who leads BC with five interceptions. “I know we’re sitting here 3-8, but I don’t think there’s a team out there that can match how we play. We never think that there’s not a chance that we can’t make something special happen.”
Things to know when Syracuse hosts Boston College on Saturday:
CAN’T IT JUST WAIT?: Addazio was miffed at the timing of Shafer’s firing, only days before Senior Day, and made that clear on the ACC’s weekly teleconference with coaches.
“I hate to see that happen four days before a game,” Addazio said. “I don’t get it. I always think that the kids should come first. My heart goes out to the players, the coaches. It appears in our profession that people think they’ve got to jump out and make these changes. I wish our profession would think about how they handle things sometimes.”
DAUNTING DEFENSE: Despite its dismal record, Boston College has ranked at the top of the heap defensively all season. The Eagles lead the nation in total defense (255.6), rushing defense (76.7) and in team tackles for loss (9.6), and they’re ranked second nationally in first-down defense (127), third in third-down conversion percentage defense (0.236), and fifth in scoring defense (14.8).
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR: BC has lost four games by a combined 11 points: 9-7 at Duke, 3-0 at home to Wake Forest, 17-14 at Louisville, and the loss to Notre Dame.
WHO’S AT QB? Both teams are among 13 nationally to play four different players at QB and BC is one of two to start four. The Orange is right behind, having started senior Terrel Hunt, freshman Eric Dungey, and walk-on Zach Mahoney, while sophomore Austin Wilson also has played, but sparingly.
HEATED SERIES: Syracuse and Boston College will be meeting for the 49th time. The Orange lead it 29-19, but the series has been hotly contested of late with the teams splitting the last 10.
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed.
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