My 2019 SU Football Preview - Pat 1: The Situation

SWC75

Bored Historian
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
20,174
Like
31,704
Here goes my annual SU Football preview. It's very long so I am breaking it into parts and have decided this year to post a part a day so it isn't so overwhelming. First I'm going to change my avatar, as I do every year at this time and explain the new one. When I was growing up one of my first crushes was Marlo Thomas on "That Girl". I loved the opening of the show, with it's emphasis on optimism:


I love the shot where Marlo sees an image of herself i the store window, gorgeous, confident and dressed to the nines, waves at it and has it wink back, as if to say "Yes, you're going to make it big!". I think that's where Syracuse fans are now. We've arrived in the big time and we are going to make it big!. Here's hoping that we are right.
 

SWC75

Bored Historian
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
20,174
Like
31,704
THE SITUATION

“Icarus, the son of Daedalus who created the maze that held the Minotaur was given wings which allowed him to fly away from the Island of Crete. He was told not to fly too near the Sun nor too close to the water, as these wings were driven by the interaction of Sun and Water. He flew too close to the sun, his wings melted, and he fell to the Sea.”

Two years ago, in my SU Football preview, I discussed my mindset of the 1970’s and how it had returned in 2017:

1970’s: (After a lengthy discussion of two platoon football, poor facilities at the time, being a mid-size private school in a sport increasingly dominated by large state schools, etc.) “The bottom line was that Syracuse couldn’t be what it once was. We really had the profile of a basketball school, many of which once played big time football but gave up on the sport for one that required much less investment to make your school big-time. We were trying to carry on in a new situation where past achievements were no longer possible. I could remember the days when we had some of the greatest players who ever played the game playing in those orange helmets. I could read about the days we went to major bowls and that one year when we were national champions with Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and Southern California all looking up at us. But those days were never coming back. The best we could do was try to tread water, maybe have a winning record sometimes and maybe even go to a minor bowl occasionally. But we could never compete with those powerhouses. We could never again be what they were.”

2017: “Babers is a good football coach and, given time, I believe he will return the program to respectability. But I think that might be the limit. I find myself back in 70’s mode. Our circumstances have changed in such a way that the glory and excitement of the past seems to me to be basically unobtainable.

We are a northeastern team. Our natural rivals are other northeastern teams. We recruit the same areas and have the same challenges. With Penn State in the Big Ten, (where there are a lot of other state university powerhouses), our ideal football conference would be Syracuse, Boston College, Army, Navy, Connecticut, Rutgers, Temple, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. That’s a 9 team conference, the perfect size, (everybody plays each other once in football and twice in basketball with an equal number of home and road games. Those schools have been competing for years on relatively equal terms. It would be a decent conference in both football and basketball. The schedule would be balanced with good, bad and mediocre teams. If we were good, we’d have good record. If we were bad, we’d have a bad record. If we were mediocre, we’d have a mediocre record. That’s as it should be. And the conference would represent the northeast – the area of the country in which we live.

That’s never going to happen. We joined the ACC for two reasons- money and prestige. But the money is the same money other ACC teams get. It gives us no advantage over them. The prestige helps us if we can win the conference and have aspirations of a national championship. But it does us no good in last place, where we’ve finished in two of the last three years.

We are a guest in a southern conference, trying to create rivalries with teams we’ve rarely played. The balance of power is with the southern teams. In the 20 seasons since the BCS started, there have been 21 national champions, (I consider Southern California to be co-champions with LSU in 2003). The only northern teams to win the national title in that time were two Ohio State squads. They are perhaps the one school capable of competing with the southern powerhouses these days. In 20 years before the BCS there were 24 national champions, (due, again, to split titles) and 10 of them were northern teams from 7 different schools….

More importantly, from Syracuse’ perspective, having three national title contenders and a bunch of southern teams in our divisions puts us at quite a disadvantage. In this division a good Syracuse team will have a fair record at best. A mediocre Syracuse team will have a poor record and a bad Syracuse team will get pounded into the turf. Even if Babers can somehow return Syracuse to the talent level we had in under Coach Mac and Coach P, I think the very best they could do in this situation is 9-3 or maybe 10-2. There will be no 11-0 breakthrough season. Much more likely is that our ceiling will be what it was in the three winning seasons we’ve had in this decade: 8-5, 8-5, 7-6. A team that is less than our best will have records like the ones we are having now. If things go really sour, it will be worse than that. This puts me back in 70’s mode, feeling that our glory years are past and occasional escapes from mediocrity are the best we can hope for. I hope again to be proven wrong.”

I was wrong after the 1970’s. Could I be wrong again? Yes, I very much could. One thing I’ve learned about college football- and I’ve had to learn it several times – is that whatever advantages some schools have in acquiring talent, the talent they are acquiring is in their mid-teens at the point of recruitment. In what profession would you be able to reliably predict success by examining someone in their mid-teens? Players can be misevaluated. Their reputations can be based on the school they played for and the state they played in, even on the reputation of the schools recruiting them. The evaluation may be correct –at the point they were made. But the players may have peaked in their development. They may not have the work ethic to fully develop their skills – or to do the academic work needed to remain eligible. Not all these kids are college material to begin with. They can get into disciplinary and legal trouble. You’d think coaching would be consistent at all schools but some coaches and their staffs do a better job of evaluating and developing talent. Some of them have better schemes than others. The game itself matters. It’s a game where a great player from certain positons, such as a great quarterback like Donovan McNabb, a great running back like Jim Brown or a great lineman like Tim Green or Dwight Freeney can elevate a team, or a sub-par player in those positons can lower them. It’s still to the advantage of schools that can recruit 4 and 5 star players in busloads but that doesn’t guarantee that they will always be better than apparently lesser schools.

The proof is before us: in the last two years Syracuse had scored 50 points against Clemson and Clemson has scored 51 against Syracuse. In those same two years, Alabama is 40-50 vs. Clemson. It doesn’t mean we are the equal of Clemson and better than Alabama. But it means, amazingly, that we can now compete with them – and anyone else. Maybe not consistently but we can do it. I was also impressed last year that we completed well against all of our opponents, save one – Notre Dame, a team that went 12-0 before losing to Clemson in the playoffs. And that was a game where our star quarterback went down early. In every other game we either dominated or were in it all the way. That sort of game-to-game consistency is very hard to do. Several greatly talented Syracuse teams tried to duplicate our undefeated seasons of 1959 and 1987 but always seemed to lose a game or two we shouldn’t have lost. Usually one of those came early, spoiling our dreams. Some of those defeats were one-sided. But last year we were “consistently good” and “occasionally great”, a good combination. It bodes well for the prospect of a dream season, something that is on the minds of a lot of Syracuse fans.

We were not, by any means a powerhouse team. My system for comparing teams is called “point differential rankings”. If you beat a team that didn’t lose to anyone else, tie a team that won all their other games or lose to a team that won all its games by the smallest margin, you get a ‘1’. If one team did better, you get a ‘2’. If two teams did better, you get s ‘3’ and so on. Then, at the end the season, you average the rankings and get a number that reflects both power and consistency. I exclude teams not in the same division< (such as Wagner last year). By that measure, we were the 5th best team Western Michigan played, the 4th best team Florida State played, the 6th best team Connecticut played, the 2nd best team Clemson played, the 8th best team Pittsburgh played, the 8th best team North Carolina played, the 3rd best team north Carolina State played, the 5th best team Wake Forest played, the 6th best team Louisville played, the 13th best team Notre Dame played but we ended with a bang and were the best team both Boston College and West Virginia played. That totals 62 ranking points, divided by 12 opponents is 5.17: we averaged being the 5th best team our opponents played. By comparison, Clemson, a true powerhouse, was the best team 7 of their opponents played, the 2nd best team four of their opponents played and the 3rd best team three of their opponents played. They never got worse than that. That’s 24 ranking points from 14 opponents, an average of 1.71. Our 5.17 average was almost identical to our 2012 teams, (63 points/12 opponents = 5.25) that went 8-5 but also beat up West Virginia in a bowl game. Things did not go well after that. We’ve got a ways to go to be truly comparable to schools like Clemson.

But we almost beat them for a second year in a row and were two fourth down plays away from being a 12-1 football team. Our 10-3 record was our best in 17 years and that was also the last time we had a point differential ranking better than 5.17, (it was 4.38 that year). Now the key is to build on that success with a series of successful seasons followed by successful recruiting trips until maybe we can have a team truly comparable to Clemson’s.

Now comes the much longed-for lightening up of the non-conference schedule. We aren’t playing Notre Dame or LSU. Instead it’s an opener at Liberty, who recently jumped up from FCS, another road game with Maryland, coming off a scandal and player rebellion and home dates with Western Michigan, who we handled in their own place last year and Holy Cross our old punching bag from the 60’s, who is still in FCS. Clemson, the big game of the year, is in the Dome. It will be the most anticipated game in years, with the retirement of Tim green’s #72 and the possibility that ESPN’s College Gameday will finally be in Syracuse, something that had previously bene a football pipedream. The rest of the division is in various stages of rebuilding. NC State lost its star quarterback to the NFL. Florida State and Louisville will come back but it won’t happen immediately. We’ve got Pitt, BC and Wake Forest at home. Duke is our other cross-over and they were 8-5 last year but have lost some key players. It is, at least, a schedule we can sink our teeth into. If we can get to 3-0, meaning another upset of Clemson, anything is possible, even running the table. We’d be favored to beat the coastal champs for the ACC tile and get into the playoff. I think the chances of that happening are probably in single digits but the fact that such a season is even on our radar is a sea change from the 2002-2017 period. Keep in mind that the great period of 1987-2001 when we had 15 straight winning seasons began, it didn’t come in increments. We went 11-0 right off the bat. I remember being one of many fans who was impressed that we were winning but having no expectation that we could go undefeated. I recall somebody calling into a local radio show prior to the Penn State game and predicting we were going 11-0. He was laughed off the air. But he was right. Now we are hoping to step up from 10-3 to 12-0+. It’s possible, even if we aren’t Clemson yet.

The history of SU football, (the positive side, anyway), is primarily contained in three stretches. The first and last were largely the result of building an innovative new place to play. The middle one was the result of hiring one of the greatest coaches ever. Archbold Stadium opened in 1907, one the first steel and concrete stadiums in college football at the time, (Harvard had opened theirs in 1903). It took a while to build a program that could fill the seats but from 1914-1935 we had 22 straight winning seasons. By then Archbold was no longer unique and the program declined. Then we hired Ben Schwartzwalder, (“The alumni wanted a big name coach- they got a long name coach). Despite a limited budget and inadequate facilities, Ole Ben produced 22 straight non-losing seasons from 1950-71, one of the great teams of all time in 1959 and several of the greatest players of all time. Then, in 1980 we built the Dome and as with Archbold, it took a few years to raise the talent level of the program to match it. Then came the 1987-2001 run of 15 straight winning seasons. I believe that we are beginning another such run, (if Dino Babers stays to enjoy the fruits of his labors). Another generation will grow up with an SU football program they can be proud of, expecting to have a good team every year with the possibility of something great happening. That’s all a fan can ask for.

But I don’t see this great new era as involving a streak of winning seasons. The ACC Atlantic is down right now but they proved in previous years that they could challenge the SEC West and the Big 10 East for the title of the strongest football conference in America. Not only are Clemson and Florida State capable of winning national championships but everybody else can be tough, as we’ve experienced. It’s a tougher row to hoe than Ben or Mac ever had. I think we are entering an era when a very good Syracuse team will win 9-10 games, a good Syracuse team will win 7-8 games. A mediocre Syracuse team will win 5-6 games if they don’t’ have a lot of injuries. We’re going to be a respected program and occasionally more than that. We aren’t going to be Clemson or Alabama, at least not every year.

The important thing this season isn’t to have a dream year, although that is possible. The important thing in this and every year will be to continue the momentum: get to a bowl game and get out on the recruiting trail and bring in more talent. I think this team will peak not this year but in a year or two when Babers has a team of his own recruits and the key players are all juniors and seniors and he has the depth he really wants. It’s probable that this will not be a dream season. After the 1959 season, we opened 1960 with 5 wins in a row, (a 16 game winning streak, our best ever), then got shut out by a Pitt team we’d beaten 35-0 the year before and lost to Army. The next year we lost our third game by a point to Maryland, got shut out by Penn State and lost to Notre Dame on a field goal after the game was over. We lost our first two games in 1962 on the way to a 5-5 record. We got shut out in our second game of 1963 by Kansas and our 1964 opener to BC on a tipped pass play. A 5-4-1 Miami team shut us out 0-24 in the second game of 1965. We again lost out first two in 1966 before winning the final 8. We won our first three in 1967 only to lose to another 5-4-1 team, Navy, 14-27. That was the end of the great period.

In 1987, we went 11-0. The next year we lost 9-26 to a 4-6-1 Ohio State team in our second game. We won our first two in 1989, then lost three in a row. We lost the Kick-off Classic to USC in 1990, beat temple and then suffered two ties. We opened with 4 wins in a row in 1991, one a great one over Florida. Then we went down to Florida State and got crushed after a good start, 14-46. The next week we lost to East Carolina in the Dome. We beat Ohio State in the Hall of fame Bowl that year but got rolled by them in the Dome in game 3 the next year, 12-35. We had a 3-0-1 start the next year but then fell apart, losing consecutive games by 0-92. We opened 1994 with a strange loss to Oklahoma in the Dome, Kevin Johnson getting called for a penalty that gave Oklahoma a shot at a game winning field goal. He was red-shirting at the time. He got called for excessive celebration because he jumped up and down when we scored the apparent winning TD and accidently jumped onto the field. Then came the McNabb Era and another loss to East Carolina in the Dome in game 2 of 1995. In ’96 we opened with a Dome loss to North Carolina and fumbled away a game at Minnesota. In 1997 we looked like National Champions, blowing out the Badgers 34-0 in the Kickoff Classic. Then we lost three in a row. In 1998 we lost on that controversial interference call. We again looked like champions blowing out Michigan and scoring seven dimes on Rutgers. Then came the trip to Raleigh. That, essentially was the end of that great era, even if we had a pleasurable after-shock in Dwight Freeney’s senior year.

In other words, sh-t happens. Most dream seasons never materialize. What if this one doesn’t? Will we be crushed if we lose to Maryland? What if Clemson spoils the big show- in a big way? How will we react? The teams I mentioned above overcame those disappointments to move on to other triumphs. If we, (the fans and the players- I don’t worry about the coaches. They are the ultimate realists), get too focused on the possibility of a “dream season”, it could send us in the other direction if our wings suddenly melt. North Carolina had an 11-3 season in 2015, giving Clemson all they could handle in the ACC title game. They went to 8-5 the next year, then 3-9, then 2-9 and their coach got fired. I don’t expect that here but it shows how things can turn sour quickly. Dream seasons are nice but we’ve to remember that the real goal is to have another good season and then go out and get the recruits that will keep us having good teams and increase the likelihood of someday having a great one.
 

kcsu

Hall of Fame
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
8,649
Like
11,589
THE SITUATION

“Icarus, the son of Daedalus who created the maze that held the Minotaur was given wings which allowed him to fly away from the Island of Crete. He was told not to fly too near the Sun nor too close to the water, as these wings were driven by the interaction of Sun and Water. He flew too close to the sun, his wings melted, and he fell to the Sea.”

Two years ago, in my SU Football preview, I discussed my mindset of the 1970’s and how it had returned in 2017:

1970’s: (After a lengthy discussion of two platoon football, poor facilities at the time, being a mid-size private school in a sport increasingly dominated by large state schools, etc.) “The bottom line was that Syracuse couldn’t be what it once was. We really had the profile of a basketball school, many of which once played big time football but gave up on the sport for one that required much less investment to make your school big-time. We were trying to carry on in a new situation where past achievements were no longer possible. I could remember the days when we had some of the greatest players who ever played the game playing in those orange helmets. I could read about the days we went to major bowls and that one year when we were national champions with Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and Southern California all looking up at us. But those days were never coming back. The best we could do was try to tread water, maybe have a winning record sometimes and maybe even go to a minor bowl occasionally. But we could never compete with those powerhouses. We could never again be what they were.”

2017: “Babers is a good football coach and, given time, I believe he will return the program to respectability. But I think that might be the limit. I find myself back in 70’s mode. Our circumstances have changed in such a way that the glory and excitement of the past seems to me to be basically unobtainable.

We are a northeastern team. Our natural rivals are other northeastern teams. We recruit the same areas and have the same challenges. With Penn State in the Big Ten, (where there are a lot of other state university powerhouses), our ideal football conference would be Syracuse, Boston College, Army, Navy, Connecticut, Rutgers, Temple, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. That’s a 9 team conference, the perfect size, (everybody plays each other once in football and twice in basketball with an equal number of home and road games. Those schools have been competing for years on relatively equal terms. It would be a decent conference in both football and basketball. The schedule would be balanced with good, bad and mediocre teams. If we were good, we’d have good record. If we were bad, we’d have a bad record. If we were mediocre, we’d have a mediocre record. That’s as it should be. And the conference would represent the northeast – the area of the country in which we live.

That’s never going to happen. We joined the ACC for two reasons- money and prestige. But the money is the same money other ACC teams get. It gives us no advantage over them. The prestige helps us if we can win the conference and have aspirations of a national championship. But it does us no good in last place, where we’ve finished in two of the last three years.

We are a guest in a southern conference, trying to create rivalries with teams we’ve rarely played. The balance of power is with the southern teams. In the 20 seasons since the BCS started, there have been 21 national champions, (I consider Southern California to be co-champions with LSU in 2003). The only northern teams to win the national title in that time were two Ohio State squads. They are perhaps the one school capable of competing with the southern powerhouses these days. In 20 years before the BCS there were 24 national champions, (due, again, to split titles) and 10 of them were northern teams from 7 different schools….

More importantly, from Syracuse’ perspective, having three national title contenders and a bunch of southern teams in our divisions puts us at quite a disadvantage. In this division a good Syracuse team will have a fair record at best. A mediocre Syracuse team will have a poor record and a bad Syracuse team will get pounded into the turf. Even if Babers can somehow return Syracuse to the talent level we had in under Coach Mac and Coach P, I think the very best they could do in this situation is 9-3 or maybe 10-2. There will be no 11-0 breakthrough season. Much more likely is that our ceiling will be what it was in the three winning seasons we’ve had in this decade: 8-5, 8-5, 7-6. A team that is less than our best will have records like the ones we are having now. If things go really sour, it will be worse than that. This puts me back in 70’s mode, feeling that our glory years are past and occasional escapes from mediocrity are the best we can hope for. I hope again to be proven wrong.”

I was wrong after the 1970’s. Could I be wrong again? Yes, I very much could. One thing I’ve learned about college football- and I’ve had to learn it several times – is that whatever advantages some schools have in acquiring talent, the talent they are acquiring is in their mid-teens at the point of recruitment. In what profession would you be able to reliably predict success by examining someone in their mid-teens? Players can be misevaluated. Their reputations can be based on the school they played for and the state they played in, even on the reputation of the schools recruiting them. The evaluation may be correct –at the point they were made. But the players may have peaked in their development. They may not have the work ethic to fully develop their skills – or to do the academic work needed to remain eligible. Not all these kids are college material to begin with. They can get into disciplinary and legal trouble. You’d think coaching would be consistent at all schools but some coaches and their staffs do a better job of evaluating and developing talent. Some of them have better schemes than others. The game itself matters. It’s a game where a great player from certain positons, such as a great quarterback like Donovan McNabb, a great running back like Jim Brown or a great lineman like Tim Green or Dwight Freeney can elevate a team, or a sub-par player in those positons can lower them. It’s still to the advantage of schools that can recruit 4 and 5 star players in busloads but that doesn’t guarantee that they will always be better than apparently lesser schools.

The proof is before us: in the last two years Syracuse had scored 50 points against Clemson and Clemson has scored 51 against Syracuse. In those same two years, Alabama is 40-50 vs. Clemson. It doesn’t mean we are the equal of Clemson and better than Alabama. But it means, amazingly, that we can now compete with them – and anyone else. Maybe not consistently but we can do it. I was also impressed last year that we completed well against all of our opponents, save one – Notre Dame, a team that went 12-0 before losing to Clemson in the playoffs. And that was a game where our star quarterback went down early. In every other game we either dominated or were in it all the way. That sort of game-to-game consistency is very hard to do. Several greatly talented Syracuse teams tried to duplicate our undefeated seasons of 1959 and 1987 but always seemed to lose a game or two we shouldn’t have lost. Usually one of those came early, spoiling our dreams. Some of those defeats were one-sided. But last year we were “consistently good” and “occasionally great”, a good combination. It bodes well for the prospect of a dream season, something that is on the minds of a lot of Syracuse fans.

We were not, by any means a powerhouse team. My system for comparing teams is called “point differential rankings”. If you beat a team that didn’t lose to anyone else, tie a team that won all their other games or lose to a team that won all its games by the smallest margin, you get a ‘1’. If one team did better, you get a ‘2’. If two teams did better, you get s ‘3’ and so on. Then, at the end the season, you average the rankings and get a number that reflects both power and consistency. I exclude teams not in the same division< (such as Wagner last year). By that measure, we were the 5th best team Western Michigan played, the 4th best team Florida State played, the 6th best team Connecticut played, the 2nd best team Clemson played, the 8th best team Pittsburgh played, the 8th best team North Carolina played, the 3rd best team north Carolina State played, the 5th best team Wake Forest played, the 6th best team Louisville played, the 13th best team Notre Dame played but we ended with a bang and were the best team both Boston College and West Virginia played. That totals 62 ranking points, divided by 12 opponents is 5.17: we averaged being the 5th best team our opponents played. By comparison, Clemson, a true powerhouse, was the best team 7 of their opponents played, the 2nd best team four of their opponents played and the 3rd best team three of their opponents played. They never got worse than that. That’s 24 ranking points from 14 opponents, an average of 1.71. Our 5.17 average was almost identical to our 2012 teams, (63 points/12 opponents = 5.25) that went 8-5 but also beat up West Virginia in a bowl game. Things did not go well after that. We’ve got a ways to go to be truly comparable to schools like Clemson.

But we almost beat them for a second year in a row and were two fourth down plays away from being a 12-1 football team. Our 10-3 record was our best in 17 years and that was also the last time we had a point differential ranking better than 5.17, (it was 4.38 that year). Now the key is to build on that success with a series of successful seasons followed by successful recruiting trips until maybe we can have a team truly comparable to Clemson’s.

Now comes the much longed-for lightening up of the non-conference schedule. We aren’t playing Notre Dame or LSU. Instead it’s an opener at Liberty, who recently jumped up from FCS, another road game with Maryland, coming off a scandal and player rebellion and home dates with Western Michigan, who we handled in their own place last year and Holy Cross our old punching bag from the 60’s, who is still in FCS. Clemson, the big game of the year, is in the Dome. It will be the most anticipated game in years, with the retirement of Tim green’s #72 and the possibility that ESPN’s College Gameday will finally be in Syracuse, something that had previously bene a football pipedream. The rest of the division is in various stages of rebuilding. NC State lost its star quarterback to the NFL. Florida State and Louisville will come back but it won’t happen immediately. We’ve got Pitt, BC and Wake Forest at home. Duke is our other cross-over and they were 8-5 last year but have lost some key players. It is, at least, a schedule we can sink our teeth into. If we can get to 3-0, meaning another upset of Clemson, anything is possible, even running the table. We’d be favored to beat the coastal champs for the ACC tile and get into the playoff. I think the chances of that happening are probably in single digits but the fact that such a season is even on our radar is a sea change from the 2002-2017 period. Keep in mind that the great period of 1987-2001 when we had 15 straight winning seasons began, it didn’t come in increments. We went 11-0 right off the bat. I remember being one of many fans who was impressed that we were winning but having no expectation that we could go undefeated. I recall somebody calling into a local radio show prior to the Penn State game and predicting we were going 11-0. He was laughed off the air. But he was right. Now we are hoping to step up from 10-3 to 12-0+. It’s possible, even if we aren’t Clemson yet.

The history of SU football, (the positive side, anyway), is primarily contained in three stretches. The first and last were largely the result of building an innovative new place to play. The middle one was the result of hiring one of the greatest coaches ever. Archbold Stadium opened in 1907, one the first steel and concrete stadiums in college football at the time, (Harvard had opened theirs in 1903). It took a while to build a program that could fill the seats but from 1914-1935 we had 22 straight winning seasons. By then Archbold was no longer unique and the program declined. Then we hired Ben Schwartzwalder, (“The alumni wanted a big name coach- they got a long name coach). Despite a limited budget and inadequate facilities, Ole Ben produced 22 straight non-losing seasons from 1950-71, one of the great teams of all time in 1959 and several of the greatest players of all time. Then, in 1980 we built the Dome and as with Archbold, it took a few years to raise the talent level of the program to match it. Then came the 1987-2001 run of 15 straight winning seasons. I believe that we are beginning another such run, (if Dino Babers stays to enjoy the fruits of his labors). Another generation will grow up with an SU football program they can be proud of, expecting to have a good team every year with the possibility of something great happening. That’s all a fan can ask for.

But I don’t see this great new era as involving a streak of winning seasons. The ACC Atlantic is down right now but they proved in previous years that they could challenge the SEC West and the Big 10 East for the title of the strongest football conference in America. Not only are Clemson and Florida State capable of winning national championships but everybody else can be tough, as we’ve experienced. It’s a tougher row to hoe than Ben or Mac ever had. I think we are entering an era when a very good Syracuse team will win 9-10 games, a good Syracuse team will win 7-8 games. A mediocre Syracuse team will win 5-6 games if they don’t’ have a lot of injuries. We’re going to be a respected program and occasionally more than that. We aren’t going to be Clemson or Alabama, at least not every year.

The important thing this season isn’t to have a dream year, although that is possible. The important thing in this and every year will be to continue the momentum: get to a bowl game and get out on the recruiting trail and bring in more talent. I think this team will peak not this year but in a year or two when Babers has a team of his own recruits and the key players are all juniors and seniors and he has the depth he really wants. It’s probable that this will not be a dream season. After the 1959 season, we opened 1960 with 5 wins in a row, (a 16 game winning streak, our best ever), then got shut out by a Pitt team we’d beaten 35-0 the year before and lost to Army. The next year we lost our third game by a point to Maryland, got shut out by Penn State and lost to Notre Dame on a field goal after the game was over. We lost our first two games in 1962 on the way to a 5-5 record. We got shut out in our second game of 1963 by Kansas and our 1964 opener to BC on a tipped pass play. A 5-4-1 Miami team shut us out 0-24 in the second game of 1965. We again lost out first two in 1966 before winning the final 8. We won our first three in 1967 only to lose to another 5-4-1 team, Navy, 14-27. That was the end of the great period.

In 1987, we went 11-0. The next year we lost 9-26 to a 4-6-1 Ohio State team in our second game. We won our first two in 1989, then lost three in a row. We lost the Kick-off Classic to USC in 1990, beat temple and then suffered two ties. We opened with 4 wins in a row in 1991, one a great one over Florida. Then we went down to Florida State and got crushed after a good start, 14-46. The next week we lost to East Carolina in the Dome. We beat Ohio State in the Hall of fame Bowl that year but got rolled by them in the Dome in game 3 the next year, 12-35. We had a 3-0-1 start the next year but then fell apart, losing consecutive games by 0-92. We opened 1994 with a strange loss to Oklahoma in the Dome, Kevin Johnson getting called for a penalty that gave Oklahoma a shot at a game winning field goal. He was red-shirting at the time. He got called for excessive celebration because he jumped up and down when we scored the apparent winning TD and accidently jumped onto the field. Then came the McNabb Era and another loss to East Carolina in the Dome in game 2 of 1995. In ’96 we opened with a Dome loss to North Carolina and fumbled away a game at Minnesota. In 1997 we looked like National Champions, blowing out the Badgers 34-0 in the Kickoff Classic. Then we lost three in a row. In 1998 we lost on that controversial interference call. We again looked like champions blowing out Michigan and scoring seven dimes on Rutgers. Then came the trip to Raleigh. That, essentially was the end of that great era, even if we had a pleasurable after-shock in Dwight Freeney’s senior year.

In other words, sh-t happens. Most dream seasons never materialize. What if this one doesn’t? Will we be crushed if we lose to Maryland? What if Clemson spoils the big show- in a big way? How will we react? The teams I mentioned above overcame those disappointments to move on to other triumphs. If we, (the fans and the players- I don’t worry about the coaches. They are the ultimate realists), get too focused on the possibility of a “dream season”, it could send us in the other direction if our wings suddenly melt. North Carolina had an 11-3 season in 2015, giving Clemson all they could handle in the ACC title game. They went to 8-5 the next year, then 3-9, then 2-9 and their coach got fired. I don’t expect that here but it shows how things can turn sour quickly. Dream seasons are nice but we’ve to remember that the real goal is to have another good season and then go out and get the recruits that will keep us having good teams and increase the likelihood of someday having a great one.
As always great post.
 

orange44

Scout Team
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
377
Like
285
Here goes my annual SU Football preview. It's very long so I am breaking it into parts and have decided this year to post a part a day so it isn't so overwhelming. First I'm going to change my avatar, as I do every year at this time and explain the new one. When I was growing up one of my first crushes was Marlo Thomas on "That Girl". I loved the opening of the show, with it's emphasis on optimism:


I love the shot where Marlo sees an image of herself i the store window, gorgeous, confident and dressed to the nines, waves at it and has it wink back, as if to say "Yes, you're going to make it big!". I think that's where Syracuse fans are now. We've arrived in the big time and we are going to make it big!. Here's hoping that we are right.
Love it!
 

SoBristol

All Conference
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
2,764
Like
2,083
Agree with others — great read. The main take away for me — win, and get the recruits. And, to be realistic, that is our big challenge. Can have a 10 - 3 season when all the stars align, but if you aspire to be consistently top 25, you need to recruit at that level.
 

SU94

2nd String
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
920
Like
2,136
Really really solid message that I wish both our "erratic" fans and bandwagon fans would understand.

If we lose to, Klempson by 20 or 25 points (or at Maryland by a field goal) ... it is not "same old Syracuse."

The program is on solid footing moving forward. Enjoy the journey.
 

bballbeadle

I’m a girl!
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
9,684
Like
18,340
Here goes my annual SU Football preview. It's very long so I am breaking it into parts and have decided this year to post a part a day so it isn't so overwhelming. First I'm going to change my avatar, as I do every year at this time and explain the new one. When I was growing up one of my first crushes was Marlo Thomas on "That Girl". I loved the opening of the show, with it's emphasis on optimism:


I love the shot where Marlo sees an image of herself i the store window, gorgeous, confident and dressed to the nines, waves at it and has it wink back, as if to say "Yes, you're going to make it big!". I think that's where Syracuse fans are now. We've arrived in the big time and we are going to make it big!. Here's hoping that we are right.
Gee, she was pretty! I liked that show, too, although I can barely remember it.
 

bballbeadle

I’m a girl!
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
9,684
Like
18,340
Really really solid message that I wish both our "erratic" fans and bandwagon fans would understand.

If we lose to, Klempson by 20 or 25 points (or at Maryland by a field goal) ... it is not "same old Syracuse."

The program is on solid footing moving forward. Enjoy the journey.
Yes, there is a bit of the doom scenario in us fans, who can’t quite trust that the good times may be rolling to us. I was (naively) shocked last year by all the people who thought Dino would leave us because we had a winning season. We are like zombies who can’t believe we are alive and can eat a salad instead of a person.

I’m going to the football event at city hall. Hope we have a good turn out!
 

Online statistics

Members online
238
Guests online
604
Total visitors
842

Top Bottom