Ward will coach the Falcons vs. Georgia Southern in Dec. 23’s GoDaddy Bowl before reuniting with Babers, who led Bowling Green to the MAC championship this season. Ward, who became interim coach when Babers was hired at Syracuse last week, has been instrumental in that success this season, his first as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator.
His unit is ninth in the FBS in turnovers gained (27) and a much-improved 62nd in scoring defense (26.7 points per game), up 42 spots from last year (33.5 points per game).
Prior to Bowling Green, Ward was Western Illinois’ defensive coordinator for three seasons. He spent the 2011 season as Drake’s defensive coordinator and 2010 as North Dakota State’s defensive backs coach.
Before that, Ward was coach at his alma mater, McPherson (Kan.) College, for three seasons, compiling a 17-14 record. He was defensive coordinator at Tulsa (Okla.) Union High in 2006, spent 2005 as co-defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator at Missouri Southern and was assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and secondary coach at Wabash College from 2001-04.
Ward was defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Glendale Community College from 1998 through 2000 and got his start in coaching as defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator at McPherson in 1997.
Babers had an 18-9 record in his two seasons at Bowling Green, which includes a 10-3 mark this season. A disciple of Baylor’s Art Briles, Babers is considered one of college football’s best offensive minds.
At Eastern Illinois, he coached quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the Walter Payton Award, the Heisman Trophy award of the FCS. Garoppolo was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.
Syracuse’s first black head coach, Babers replaces Scott Shafer, who was fired with a 4-8 record this season. He had a 14-23 record in his three seasons in charge of the Orange.