SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse coach Greg Robinson was fired Sunday with the Orange nearing the end of a fourth straight dismal season under his leadership.
Robinson, who will coach the final two games of this season, is 9-36 overall and 3-25 in the Big East. He had another year left on a contract that pays $1.1 million per season.
Syracuse (2-8, 1-5 Big East) lost to Connecticut 39-14 Saturday night and is trying to avoid a third 10-loss campaign under Robinson with two games remaining. The Orange had never reached double-digit losses in a season before Robinson was hired by athletic director Daryl Gross in January 2005 to replace Paul Pasqualoni.
“Last week we fell out of bowl contention and this week was senior week. We just thought at this point the community could relax,” Gross said, explaining why he waited until Sunday to make a decision. “He’s a guy who wanted to live here the rest of his life. A guy like that you give a chance.”
After Syracuse went 2-10 last season, Gross decided to retain Robinson despite calls for change from both alumni and fans. But Gross said he needed to see “tangible improvement” in the program and that never happened.
Syracuse stayed close to Pittsburgh and West Virginia in its first two Big East games this season, but were blown out 45-13 at South Florida on Oct. 18, accumulating nine yards of offense and no first downs in the second half.
A 28-21 victory against Louisville at home in its next game provided a glimmer of hope, but the Orange have lost their last two games by a combined score of 74-31. Those type of lopsided losses have been commonplace during Robinson’s tenure.
“We talked this year about having all this progress, and we’re not getting the wins,” Gross said. “This is a program that I felt at this time should be moving back toward prominence and competing for conference championships and we’re not there. I think we need to move a little faster.”
Gross said a search was under way but offered no details.
Robinson was a longtime NFL and college defensive coordinator, but he’d never been a head coach. He was hired to revive a Syracuse program with a long tradition of success that had gone stale.
Pasqualoni had a 107-59-1 record at Syracuse in 14 seasons and a 6-3 mark in bowl games, but the Orange went 6-6 in his final season, including a 51-14 loss to Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Two weeks after Gross was hired as AD in 2004, Pasqualoni was fired.
Under Robinson, though, the Orange got worse. Robinson’s first team went 1-10, the first time since Syracuse began playing football in 1889 that it lost 10 games. There have been few, if any signs, of improvement since.
The team’s poor performance under Robinson, who has had three offensive coordinators in his four seasons, also has hurt financially. In 21 homes games over Robinson’s first three seasons, more than 260,000 seats were not sold.
In April, the school newspaper, The Daily Orange, reported that the football team lost money in 2006 for the first time since 1995, when athletic departments were first required to report their finances to the government.
Average attendance fell to a 21-year low in 2007, and attendance numbers are again abysmal this season. Only 27,549 turned out for Pittsburgh in September, the smallest Carrier Dome crowd in 22 years.