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Opinion: Dino Babers should be ACC Football Coach of the Year

Dino Babers (file photo)

On Tuesday, The ACC announced Clemson's Dabo Swinney as its "Coach of the Year" he outscored Syracuse's Dino Babers 27-22 in votes.

Let me preface my opinion by making it absolutely clear, I think Swinney is one of the most sensational coaches in college football. I'm a fan of the job he's done turning Clemson into a national power, I'm a fan of the person he is.

He did a great job weathering a quarterback situation when Kelly Bryant left the program and has the Tigers undefeated. Kudos are in order for Dabo.

However.

Dino Babers deserves to be the 2018 Coach of the Year.

The same conference media members that way back in July voted Syracuse last in the Atlantic Division for its preseason poll thought coaching the Orange to a 2nd place finish wasn't good enough.

Let's write that again. Voters put Syracuse at DEAD LAST in the preseason, the Orange leapfrogged six schools to finish only behind the Tigers.

Still not good enough for those voters.

Rest assured, this is a blip on the radar, the Orange finds its bowl fate on Sunday and it's full speed ahead from there.

For this mid-week accolade though, it was an opportunity missed.

An opportunity to reward a truly masterful performance.

Babers more than doubled Syracuse's win total from four in 2017 to nine so far in 2018 with one more to go. Again, this isn't to knock undefeated Clemson, but it's a sound argument to say the better coaching job was to turn a team around with its best win total in 17 years.

Certainly, the most unexpected coaching performance comes from Babers, not that he hasn't shown his prowess upsetting Clemson and Virginia Tech in the past but because his Orange team flirted for a while with a New Year's Six Bowl and may land its best bowl in 20 years.

If you told somebody that in August, they might have laughed at you.

Oh, and while we're giving props to Swinney for his handling of the Bryant/Trevor Lawrence quarterback situation, let's remember Babers handled a similar situation to perfection.

Dino pressed the right button at the right time sending in Tommy DeVito for a struggling Eric Dungey late in the fourth quarter, earning a win over North Carolina that saved the season in some ways. It definitely stopped a 2-game losing streak in its tracks.

He followed that up by starting his senior leader Dungey the next week and not caving to the temptation of DeVito's hot hand.

Dungey responded with 415 passing yards in a 51-41 win over NC State that clinched bowl eligibility. He scored six touchdowns in the season finale Saturday against Boston College.

Again, the right decisions were made wire-to-wire from Babers. His turnaround of the Orange is equal parts unexpected, impressive and admirable. He did it, as he says "the right way".

If there's one reward for Babers, it's not a trophy, it's something the fans can give him.

Babers was almost moved to tears when he found out almost 43,000 fans watched his team clobber Louisville on Senior Night. It's clear the community and a filled Carrier Dome means something special to him.

If you want to show your support for Dino, do him a favor.

Show up in droves to the Carrier Dome in 2019.

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