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Western Michigan's Mike Hart joins Syracuse coaching staff

Western Michigan running backs coach Mike Hart is joining Syracuse's coaching staff, according to a source.

Western Michigan running backs coach Mike Hart is the new running backs coach for Syracuse coach Dino Babers, according to a source.

It’s a return home for the 29-year-old Hart, a Syracuse native, who starred at nearby Onondaga Central High, where he once held the national career record for rushing touchdowns (204) and points (1,246), went 46–1 and won three state titles.

This past season was Hart’s second in his position at Western Michigan. Prior to that, he was Eastern Michigan’s running backs coach for two seasons after spending a season as a quality control assistant for the program.

Hart was a running back for the Indianapolis Colts from 2008–10. He is Michigan’s all-time leading rusher (5,040 yards) after playing for the Wolverines from 2004–07.

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Hart joins Babers, who became Syracuse’s coach last month after posting an 18–9 record in his two years at Bowling Green, including a 10–­3 mark and a MAC championship this season. A disciple of Baylor’s Art Briles, Babers is considered one of college football’s best offensive minds and has a 37–16 career record.

While coach at Eastern Illinois from 2012–13, 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. Shafer went 14­–23 in his three seasons in charge of the Orange.