Syracuse head football coach Dino Babers was named a finalist for the 2018 Dodd Trophy on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Babers is one of seven coaches in contention for the award, which is presented by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The award recognizes coaches in college football who embody the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity, both on and off the field.
The Orange are in the midst of a breakout season in Babers’ third year at the helm. After being picked to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division during the preseason, Syracuse posted a 6-2 league record and finished second in the division behind No. 2 Clemson. Babers has guided the Orange to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013 and their first top-25 ranking in 17 years.
The Orange broke into the Associated Press Top 25 and Amway Coaches’ Poll at No. 19 on Oct. 28 and rose as high as No. 12. The Orange, currently No. 17 in the both polls, have an opportunity to finish the season in the top 25 for the first time since 2001.
In addition, Syracuse has appeared in all six releases of the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings. The Orange are No. 20 in the committee’s final poll of the year.
Syracuse is one of three Power-Five teams, along with Baylor and Florida, to increase its win total by five from last season. Of the Orange’s three losses, two are to teams currently in the top four of the CFP rankings – Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame.
Syracuse boasts one of the most opportunistic defenses and complete special teams units in the country. The Orange are in the top 10 nationally in third-down defense (6th – .281), fumbles recovered (T-3rd – 13), interceptions (T-5th – 17), turnover margin (T-3rd – +1.17) and turnovers gained (T-1st – 30). In ESPN’s special teams efficiency ratings, Syracuse is tied for sixth nationally and ranks second among Power-Five teams with mark of 68.8.
Offensively, Syracuse is second in the ACC in scoring offense (40.8) and third in total offense (468.8). The Orange have scored at least 50 points in a game a school-record five times, and scored 40+ points in eight of their 12 regular-season games.
Finalists for this year’s Dodd Trophy were selected by a panel consisting of all previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member. The seven coaches hail from four conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC), along with Notre Dame, and combined for a record of 75-9 during the regular season.
The winner of the 2018 Dodd Trophy will be selected from the list of finalists by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation, and will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Week.
2018 Dodd Trophy Finalists
Dino Babers, Syracuse
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
Nick Saban, Alabama
Kirby Smart, Georgia
Dabo Swinney, Clemson