EMERGENCY PODCAST: The Syracuse news was so massive that we had to do an emergency podcast.
Chris, Safe, & Jake brokedown all the news, Desko's legacy, Gait's journey, and plenty more in a great show last night. Listen to the episode over on Podomatic or in the player below.
UPDATE: 7:47 PM
Terry Foy reported on the Quick Restart Podcast for Inside Lacrosse this afternoon that Kayla Treanor has not been offered or turned down the Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse Head Coaching position.
UPDATE: 12:25 PM
Syracuse has officially announced John Desko has retired as men’s lacrosse head coach.
11 NCAA titles, including 5 as head coach.— Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse (@CuseMLAX) June 7, 2021
More victories at Syracuse than all-but 18 NCAA DI programs have in total.
Countless lives impacted.
Legendary head coach John Desko has announced his retirement.#ThankYouDesko https://t.co/93CN0Ndx4P pic.twitter.com/ZzOgdz6E7c
In the statement, Desko said he had “had planned on making a formal announcement later this week and will be addressing this decision in the near future.” Syracuse’s release included nothing addressing a search for a new head coach.
A massive and shocking shake-up has occurred in both the men’s and women’s college lacrosse worlds as Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Gary Gait will reportedly be named the next head coach of the Syracuse men’s program, replacing legendary head coach John Desko. The news was first reported by Terry Foy of Inside Lacrosse.
Gait of course is regarded as perhaps the best player in the history of the Syracuse program and the sport of men’s lacrosse as a whole. He’s been the head coach of the Syracuse Women’s program since 2008, guiding the program to three NCAA Championship Games, and eight Final Fours in 14 seasons. All but one of the programs NCAA Tournament wins have come with Gait at the helm. However he has no experience in the men’s college game and minimal experience in the men’s field professional game, making this an extraordinary hire in many ways.
Adding to the shocking news; several reports have claimed that Dave Pietramala, the former legendary Johns Hopkins coach and player, is in line to join Gait’s staff as the defensive coordinator. Pietramala left Hopkins last year after 20 years as the program’s head coach and 24 in total as part of the Hopkins program, all of which saw him face the Orange as either a player or coach.
There have only been four head coaches in the history of the Syracuse men’s program, which dates back to 1916. Laurie Cox was the first, serving 15 seasons as coach, winning four USILA National Championships in the process. Then it was passed on to Roy Simmons, who coached the team for an incredible 40 years, winning a USILA national title in 1957. He was replaced by his son, Roy Simmons Jr, the father of the modern Syracuse program, winning six NCAA National Championships and making 17 Final Fours, including a famous 16 consecutively. Simmons served 28 years as coach, before being replaced by his longtime assistant and former player Desko. Desko carried the torch with aplomb, winning five national championships in his first 11 seasons, and making 9 Final Fours.
However it’s been a slow decline since then. The Orange haven’t won a title since 2009, and haven’t made a Final Four since 2013, their only one in that time frame. While the program continued to perform at an elite level and win games for much of that stretch, the last several years have seen another downturn in form that has coincided with off the field issues as well. Since 2018 the program was 29-18 and hasn’t advanced out of the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. Chase Scanlan, who wore the famous #22 jersey, was kicked off the team this season following a domestic incident arrest late in the season.
It led many to believe that a change could be on the horizon, but shock still ensued when the news broke that it would be Gait who took charge. In some ways it makes sense though. All four of those coaches named above were apart of the Syracuse family. They’ve never hired a non Syracuse player or coach to be the head coach. With a lack of options of Syracuse alums in the men’s game, they’ve tapped a famous former player and someone in the office right now who’s been incredibly successful. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in the future.
Speculation will also ensue over what direction the Syracuse women’s program goes in. They’ve been hugely successful with Gait and were in the national championship game just a week ago. They have many of their best players from this year’s team returning for next year. Due to Gait it’s emerged as one of the preeminent jobs and programs in women’s lacrosse and you imagine will be a coveted job. Does the same principle of sticking within the family apply to the women’s team? If so, Kayla Treanor, lead assistant to Acacia Walker-Weinstein with the Boston College women’s program that beat Syracuse for the national title a week ago and former legendary Syracuse player herself, could be in line. Michelle Tumolo, another former Orange great who currently serves as head coach at Wagner where she’s 29-15 in three seasons and made the NCAA Tournament in 2019, also could be in play. If they choose to go outside, do they make a run at Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina, who’s helped the Seawolves program take a similar meteoric rise to the top the way Gait did with the Orange? Spallina’s son Joey is also a current Orange commit for the Class of 2023. That will be a story to follow.
Current Syracuse assistant Pat March is expected to remain on staff as offensive coordinator per Brent Axe.