CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- How entertaining was new Syracuse coach Dino Babers during Friday's ACC Kickoff event? After Babers had spent about 20 minutes chatting with reporters, Clemson star Deshaun Watson was escorted into the room for his turn in front of the cameras. Still, a group of about 15 media members stuck by Babers' podium, eager to keep listening to the coach of a team coming off a four-win season rather than join the contingent for the Heisman favorite.
Babers made it worth their while, offering a litany of funny, fascinating or downright confusing stories and anecdotes. A few examples:
Babers on recruiting players to locations like Syracuse: "Are you a 'Game Of Thrones' guy? The Lord of the North? Sometimes I feel like Syracuse is Jon Snow. We've got that whole thing up there, keeping the ice people out. The guys down south are living it up and eating grapes. We're freezing our tails off up there and holding it down."
Babers on his offense appealing to fans: "We're going to try to get a lot of plays because we may not have so many good plays in the beginning. So next year, they'll get one or two that they like. But if they keep coming back, they'll get a product they enjoy."
Babers on the importance of offensive linemen: "Everyone says the lion is the king of the jungle. It's not. The elephants are the king of the jungle. And if you get in the water, it's hippos. Everybody thinks it's crocodiles and alligators, but hippos can snap those things' backs by closing their jaws. The big boys are what you need."
Babers on being on the search committee that hired new athletic director John Wildhack: "It was kind of different, wasn't it? I asked some really nice questions just in case he was going to be my boss."
Babers on the beverage options at Syracuse: "I said, you've got skim milk and soda pop right next to it. I said, this does not make any sense. So we got rid of the soda pop and I gave them 2 percent milk because they're big boys and they can drink 2 percent milk and eat their cereal the right way."
Babers on grooming wide receivers: "While I'm at the University of Pittsburgh, Larry Fitzgerald is there. I'm not coaching him. I'm coaching the running backs. We're at the end of spring ball, and all the reporters are there. I'm coaching the running backs and I hear, 'Oh!' and I turn around thinking someone tore their knee up. You hear -- click, click, click -- cameras going off. I asked what happened, and a guy goes, 'Larry Fitzgerald just dropped a ball. That's his first drop of the spring.' Then we went through the season, and I believe he had one drop that year. So Larry Fitzgerald had one drop in practice and one drop in a football game for an entire year. And that's how I want my receivers to play."