first_img Published on November 29, 2015 at 7:31 pm Scott Shafer fought back tears as silence permeated throughout the room. Missy Shafer voiced words of encouragement from the back, helping her husband through his choked-up final words at Syracuse. The often-stern 48-year-old was the most vulnerable he’d been in three seasons as head coach, if only for a minute and 40 seconds.And just like that, as Shafer descended the steps from the podium with haste, the public got its last look at a man who was fired five days prior.“He’s an emotional person, as you know,” Floyd Little said. “I like him as a person. He did the best he could for the most part.”For the most part, it wasn’t good enough. Seven combined wins in the last two seasons. A defense that surrendered 40-plus points in each of its five road games. Two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on him in two of the last three weeks. The recent demerits leading to Shafer’s demise will, from the outside, define a tenure that seemed to lose hope with each passing week.That’s the side of Shafer most have seen.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis firing before Saturday’s game against Boston College provided a glimpse into what many haven’t. Parents posted pictures of Shafer in their homes, arms extended around the shoulders of their children and a smile across his face. Players both past and current expressed their support, some saying Shafer was the one who gave them a chance in life.In some ways, Director of Athletics Mark Coyle’s decision took a backseat to the human aspect as the week progressed. Outside the results-driven business of coaching emerged a man with layers beyond a 14-23 overall record.“When we would go to his house in the offseason, he would treat us just like family,” sophomore wideout Steve Ishmael said. “He was never a greedy guy and always treated us great. I love him.”Just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, Shafer trotted onto the Carrier Dome turf for the last time before a game. He spoke with Boston College assistants, aggressively clapped when a manager caught a Riley Dixon punt and chatted with two fans for about a minute before fading into the tunnel.During Senior Day ceremonies, he posed for pictures with the families of 23 players and managers honored. He raised both fists just six seconds into his postgame press conference and the emotion began pouring out. His daughter, Elsa, pressed her head against Missy’s shoulder and his son, Wolfgang, got red in his eyes.“I want to thank the community and the communities both on campus and in Syracuse, especially in Fayetteville,” Shafer said, “and all the people that have been there for Missy and I and helping us raise our two kids for the past seven years.”There are 27 children of coaches on the Syracuse staff. Some, if not most or all, will have to relocate after their fathers were displaced from jobs. The fallout from firing a coach extends beyond the race to find a replacement. It trickles into families and that may be where the brunt of the move is felt most.When Shafer kept Eric Dungey in a blowout against Louisville and the freshman suffered another head injury, Shafer was rightfully lambasted for his reasoning. When he cost Syracuse 15 yards against No. 1 Clemson, he was exposed for not sticking to his mantra of “control the controllables.” When he drew another flag for unsportsmanlike conduct against North Carolina State, he didn’t even wait to be asked about the slip-up before explaining himself.The tension surrounding his job status built up and it was justified.But even if he’s a coach with flaws plastered on him throughout an eight-game losing streak, there’s a human side.Ishmael will remember Shafer most for his enthusiasm and positivity. Zaire Franklin for his fire and emotion. Little for his “hard-nosed” style and ability to inspire. Offensive coordinator Tim Lester for a level of care for players that can’t be found in most coaches.The final evaluations had little to do with football.And after a week, and season, littered with well-documented faults that led to Shafer’s downfall, that’s how he should go out.Matt Schneidman is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at mcschnei@syr.edu or @matt_schneidman. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more