Four years ago, Scott Shafer’s football sojourn almost seemed at a dead end.
Fired after only one year as defensive coordinator at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez, a victim of one of the worst seasons in Wolverines history, Shafer was down and out after stops at five colleges in a five-year span.
Then came a phone call at Christmas time in 2008 from Doug Marrone, who had just been hired as coach at Syracuse.
The two clicked and Shafer was hired as defensive coordinator. He quickly transformed a woeful Orange defense into an intimidating unit, becoming fast friends with Marrone as both became key cogs in turning around a program that had reached the depths of despair.
Now, with Marrone suddenly leaving this week to coach the Buffalo Bills, Shafer has landed his first job as a head coach.
He will officially replace Marrone, two people familiar with the selection process told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because there had not been an official announcement from the university.
The school was expected to schedule a press conference for Thursday.
Though an official announcement has not yet been made, Shafer was congratulated by his son and former players Rob Long and Antwon Bailey on Twitter.
Shafer, a 1990 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University and a Painesville native, was one of Marrone’s first hires.