The age of coach-player relationships is falling to the hands of the transfer portal in Syracuse.
With Tommy DeVito transferring this marks Syracuse’s fourth player to leave this season. Before DeVito, it was Taj Harris. Before Harris, it was Jarveon Howard. Before Howard, it was Ben Labrosse.
The ongoing cycle of players leaving the program is a testament to the powers of the transfer portal. However, DeVito’s decision to leave left Syracuse head coach Dino Babers more than emotional.
“I’m attached to him,” Babers said. “People may not believe that but his well being and him doing well is extremely important to me.”
The occasional Monday press conference held by Dino Babers is usually filled with energy and questions on the upcoming matchup.
There was none of that.
The awkward silence, emotional pauses, and somber reality emoted the relationship that was once bred but never fulfilled. The outward display of the relationship between a coach and his/her players is often normalized—lacking the depths of relationships a coach has to go into with each player.
“You treat everybody the same, but he’s (DeVito) different.”
The analogy Babers gives is that you treat all your sons the same but you understand some of those guys are different correlates straight to DeVito.
The Jersey kid from the powerhouse high school, Don Bosco Prep, made Syracuse his home for four years. The duo of DeVito and Babers envisioned a certain type of ending and not the one that is currently taking place.
A riddled career of ups and downs at Syracuse essentially led to DeVito’s departure. Throughout his career at Syracuse (2018-2021), DeVito threw for 3,866 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. While also being sacked 81 times. A season cut short due to an injury to his leg last season and losing his starting job to transfer Garrett Shrader this season, all led to DeVito's decision. Leaving now and not running the risk of playing four games allows him to have two years of eligibility to start fresh at a new school of his liking.
Ultimately, the heavily anticipated decision of what the Orange were going to do with DeVito resulted in DeVito taking back the reins of his own career. The matchup against the unranked Clemson was DeVito’s fourth consecutive game he has not played in. The loss to Clemson was also the third loss in a row for the Orange. In what started off as an ongoing week to week competition between Shrader and DeVito was eventually won out by Shrader. The nifty Shrader transferred in from Mississippi State and ran his way to a starting job. The once balanced offense of the Orange with Tommy DeVito transitioned to a primarily rush offense with Shrader. The management of the game and fit of Shrader which complements the play of Sean Tucker solidified his presence in the offense. The displacement of DeVito sidelined him for four weeks until he made the decision to explore his options.
The departure or breakup one can say is almost as if a girlfriend is breaking up with her boyfriend. The phone number and text messages are deleted, as you simply wish the other the best. Babers wishes things ended differently and he will still always have a place for DeVito in his heart. However, DeVito’s name and stats have been removed from cuse.com. Technical difficulties arise all the time but imploding breakups online are another. As DeVito’s name is erased from the site, Taj Harris' name remains for some odd reason.
The Orange can only ask “what if” in the wake of DeVito’s departure and simply put all faith in Shrader and Sean Tucker moving forward.