COLLEGE PARK — When Scott Shafer succeeded Doug Marrone as coach at Syracuse before the 2013 season, he took over a squad that was co-champions of the Big East Conference, a springboard for its move to the ACC.
And Shafer helped continue that success with a 7-6 overall record and 4-4 finish in the ACC Atlantic Division in his first season as a coach.
But the Orange won only seven more games in his next two seasons, and on Nov. 23, Syracuse fired Shafer.
In his first meeting with local media earlier this week after he was hired to DJ Durkin's Maryland staff as defensive coordinator in December, Shafer reflected on his three-year tenure coaching the Orange.
"It was a great experience," Shafer said. "I enjoyed and loved being at Syracuse. I loved the people at Syracuse. The grassroots folks at Syracuse have been great to Missy and I and our family. It was a great place to raise our two children. We lived in a wonderful town, Fayetteville, N.Y., there."
Syracuse was part of the Big East's eventual football dissolution when it and Pittsburgh bolted to join the ACC, and the Orange ended up in the same division as the conference's top programs, Florida State and Clemson. The move was an adjustment at all levels of the program, and Syracuse could never replicate the success it had that first season.
"It was a difficult job in a lot of ways, especially when we had the change agents of going to the Big East to the ACC and the toughest division of the ACC," Shafer said. "The toughest thing for us was we couldn't keep the quarterbacks healthy the last two years."
The Orange used three starters at quarterback in Shafer's last two years after Terrel Hunt, the starter at the beginning of both seasons suffered injuries. And Shafer joked that quarterback health is one of his big takeaways from his time at Syracuse upon reflection.
"That's one thing I know I'll be telling my defensive kids, stay away from that quarterback," Shafer said with a laugh. "We can hit their quarterback but not ours."