For the first time in the Dino Babers era, the Syracuse Orange football team takes the field on Friday night. Syracuse has no shortage of challenges ahead of them this season. Fifteen years have gone by since Syracuse has put together back to back winning seasons. After finishing 4-8 last season, it won’t happen this year either.
Syracuse has as many wins in the past decade as their most famous jersey (44). While discouraging at first, since 2010 the Orange have been trending upward. After a five-year drought, Syracuse has appeared in a Bowl game 3 of the past six seasons. But for fans, that shouldn’t be enough. After the Paul Pasqualoni days, Syracuse has been stuck in neutral, average at best.
Babers doesn’t even have big shoes to fill. The most accomplished coach since Pasqualoni, Doug Marrone, had a 25-25 record(.500). There are plenty of fans who set the goal for Syracuse and Babers “6-6 with a Bowl game”, but fans need to demand better out of the ‘Cuse. Even if fans are “a realist who thinks Syracuse has a very tough schedule” why not push for a winning season. It shouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination if they can get six wins they can’t pull an upset for seven. Start the winning tradition a year early. Seven or bust.
To bring SU back to it’s winning ways there has to be identity. On the offensive side of the ball, coach Babers needs to find out what their bread and butter will be. Syracuse finished in the bottom 3rd of the conference in passing and rushing yards last season. Another big time challenge will be jumpstarting playmakers. In Syracuse football history, there has been no shortage of players with star athlete power.
From Jim Brown to Ernie Davis, to Floyd Little, to Donovan McNabb throwing to Marvin Harrison have all enjoyed success in Syracuse. It’s up to Syracuse and Babers to dig out that diamond in the rough. Whether it’s quarterback Eric Dungey, leading receiver Steve Ishmael, or someone on the opposite side of the football; someone has to get over the hump and be a game changer.
While it may seem an uphill battle, Syracuse starts off the season against the Colgate Raiders(9-5 last season), Louisville Cardinals(8-5), and USF Bulls(8-5). Luckily for the Orange, the first three games of the season are at the Carrier Dome. Having a house full of fans ready for a new beginning should give the team a boost. Now head coach of the Detroit Lions, Jim Caldwell once said “The toughest place, period, throughout my entire coaching career, was Syracuse. You could not hear in that building, in that dome.
As a matter of fact, I was in the press box, and they had an open glass window so you could hear all the noise coming in.”(from ESPN.com) If Dino Babers can get Syracuse off to a fast start, expect those passionate fans to make it difficult for even their tough opponents. Since apparently “Orange is the new fast” that very well could be a possibility.
Syracuse plays Friday at 7 pm Eastern.