For the second part of our two part feature wherein we get to know our new ACC buddies a bit better, we take a look at the Syracuse Orange. They are a historical program, putting together their first season in 1889. They boast a superb basketball program, and while the football program leaves a bit to be desired, the shift to the ACC could very well help that. Again, we enlisted the resident SB Nation Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician to answer a few questions from our writers to get a better idea of the Orange Fan's thoughts on the move.
Once again, before getting to the meat of the post, let's take a look at the two major programs that will be joining our ranks.
Football: 1 claimed national title
1 Heisman winner (Ernie Davis)
All time record of 684-481-49
Played first season in 1889
Notable alum - Larry Czonka, Floyd Little, Ernie Davis, and Jim Brown
Basketball: 1 National Title
35 tournament appearances
Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim
Notable alum - Carmelo Anthony
As with Pittsburgh, there are plenty of other bullet points that could easily make their way into these lists, but in the interest of time, they've been left out. Now, on to the questions. We got John Cassillo from TNIAAM to take time out of his day to answer a few inquiries regarding the football and basketball programs at Syracuse.
I'll have to answer this one in sections:
-Paul Pasqualoni was the best coach we've had in the past 25 years, but we've still only had four coaches in that time. Dick MacPherson, however, should get credit for the best season we've put together in the past quarter-century, the 11-0-1 campaign from 1987 (where we finished number four). Also in that time period, we've won at least a share of four conference titles, five seasons of double-digit wins, two Heisman contenders and 10 seasons where we finished in the top 25 (five in the top 15). I won't deny the last decade's been a mess, but to chalk up the last 25 years to a loss is shortsighted (and false). Not much to be mortified about in the big picture. Plenty to be disappointed with in the past decade.
-How have we not mentioned Greg Robinson as a huge reason for our slide? By failing to a) know how to be an effective head coach, b) tap into local recruiting grounds and c) schedule teams that wouldn't dominate us (still a problem for the program, by the way), he was the main reason the program's been set back as much as it has. Some other factors: the changing tide of college football that undermines the northeast's ability to land top players and the rise of UConn and Rutgers. Combine those two forces with a dip in football for us, and suddenly, it turns into a ten-year dry spell.
-Marvin Harrison and Donovan McNabb only played together for one season at SU. Rob Konrad -- while much-beloved -- was a fullback, and his impact on the game can never be compared to that of an elite running back. Sure, we lost three and four games each season McNabb was at the helm, but we had to contend with some very good Miami and Virginia Tech teams in the Big East (not to mention WVU). At the same time, this was the problem with Coach P -- he could never get over that hump of eight or nine wins, or shake the perception of good, not great teams. Ends up that wore off on McNabb too, and it plagued his pro career, even at the height of his game.
Boeheim's irreplaceable because he built the program into being the powerhouse that it is today, and is a force in the greater Syracuse community, too. Living in upstate New York isn't great weather-wise, but there's plenty of beautiful areas and place to raise kids. We've been able to recruit top national talent for over 25 years now, so I'm not really concerned with our abilities to continue that.
Your point on HOF coaches actually carries no weight (no offense). It took North Carolina less than 10 years after Dean Smith retired to bring on Roy Williams and continue winning NCAA titles. Coach K is still in charge at Duke, so we really don't know how that's going to play out yet. Kentucky has won titles after Adolph Rupp -- who, mind you, won his in a completely different era of college basketball. Not to take away from them at all. Just a completely different game. Izzo and Calhoun are the greatest coaches their respective schools have had, so again, no book written on that front either. Mike Hopkins is the answer if we'd like more of the same success. He's played a key role in recruiting some of our best over the years, and that will be the case whether he's an assistant or the head coach. No reason to go out and get a high profile guy. We've got our next coach ready to go, with no intention of leaving.
Last year, after the West Virginia game, we were number 30, votes-wise, I believe. We went 8-5 two years ago. Coach Doug Marrone gets the school's strengths and its history, and is willing to invest the time to bring us back to the "good ole' days." I just hope the fan base and administration gives him the time to do it. We'll be a top 25 team again (and soon), though I'm unsure if we'll ever win more than 10 games again, especially moving to the ACC.
The move turns Syracuse basketball into even more of a national brand, and more regularly enters us into the "elite" conversation with North Carolina and Duke. In football though, it pays amazing dividends. Southern recruiting grounds, a seat at the "big kids table," more television revenue and an opportunity to revamp our facilities (in progress). Football drives the freight, and as a team that hasn't always just been a "basketball school," Syracuse stands to gain quite a bit from a step up in stature and opponents.
At first, it was shocking. But a lot of us moved on pretty quickly. Can't really remember the last nice thing that was said about the Big East on TNIAAM, to be honest. We were frustrated with leadership, so we left. I honestly don't pay attention to Big East news beyond previews for this season and our talks about leaving the league for the 2013 season. I also understand my views may not reflect those of all SU fans, though.
It wasn't THAT long ago that Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College were part of the Big East, so I'm not anticipating it'll take much time to get those rivalries started back up. Boston College is our traditional rival in football, and I'm really excited to resume it on an annual basis. We may face Miami and Tech more infrequently, but those rivalries will definitely matter again. Pitt will continue to be relevant (again, one of our oldest football rivals), and maybe we finally hate Maryland the way we always should have.
In basketball, things get rough. Pitt will be our new biggest rivals, and we've been permanently paired with BC for a home-and-home every season, so they're the top prospects. But I think if we want to be more of a national basketball brand, then we need to fuel the fire with UNC and Duke. It won't be easy, given their preference to just hate each other, but I think we can break in, and hopefully establish ourselves third in the basketball pecking order. Also, don't forget we're probably keeping the Georgetown series alive. In the same conference or not, I doubt any basketball game will ever get me as fired up as SU-Georgetown does every year.