1 Comments Published on 9.27.2007 by Brian Harrison
The State of the Orange is on the minds of many faithful Orange fans. In part one of our examination we looked at the top of the food chain at the Athletic Department, a man in the crosshairs of this writer at least. In part two we examined the man that is at the helm of our football club. Part two was not easy to pen after the man chaired the biggest upset in college football history. In part three we take a look at the program as a whole, where we are, and the other teams (I will limit this to the top three) that compose and round out the State of the Orange.
So where do we begin? I think a fiscal analysis would be a good foreground to the current state we find ourselves in. When Kenneth “Buzz” Shaw was running the university he was an extremely talented fundraiser, charismatic leader, and liked by his peers and students alike. The university had a surplus of money that a rapper would clearly call a “stupid fresh” amount. The same was the case with Jake Crouthamel and the athletic department. This number is a little closer to $60 million. Now, while I am not sure the exact number that surplus is today, I know it is vastly less than what it was. It is the price of a terrible football team losing money, combined with an athletic department spending money hand over fist (no JBren I still don’t know where this term came from). Now, we have Nancy Chancy spending $6 million on a wall that has become the world’s most expensive outdoor urinal, and DOCTOR Gross spending money like he still works at USC.
This is the environment that is trying to breed success in a D1 athletic program. Good thing we have two other teams that, by no understatement, are the pride of the program.
We start with what we are known for; basketball. Jim Boeheim has been a fixture at Syracuse for over 30 years. The man is a legend, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and one of the most successful basketball coaches in the history of college basketball. While basketball is approaching fast, and a full preview will be released later, this is not the article to speculate how we will do this year. But one thing is certain, we continue to be an elite team in the nation and the Big East Conference. While the injury of Andy Rautins will no doubt have some impact on the team, we have the number one class of freshmen in the nation, along with Paul Harris and Devendorf. We will finish in the top five of the Big East this season, no question.
Even more so, over the last 25 years, Syracuse has been a lacrosse school. With nine (the NCAA only recognizes eight) national championships and a record of 22 straight final four appearances between 1982 and 2004, this program is one of the elite programs in the lacrosse world. From Roy Simmons, Sr. to Roy Simmons Jr., and finally John Desko, these men have guided this program into a powerhouse of Division 1. With a top five recruiting class, this team is on a big upswing in the next few seasons.
Really however, these teams need to be addressed. For the first time in the history of the Big East, Syracuse achieved ten wins in the league in basketball and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. This was an absolute travesty and Gary Walters should be ashamed for his committee committing such a violation. That being said, had Syracuse won a couple more games, it would have been a moot point.
Lacrosse failed to even make the tournament for the first time in over twenty five years. Getting blown out by teams that Syracuse used to dismantle like Colgate and UMass is disheartening to a team that is usually outstanding. Desko, having last won the championship in 2004, is having a terrible last few years compared to the usual status of the program. Last season was the first year since 1982 that the football team failed to make a bowl game, the basketball team was not selected for the NCAA Tournament, and the lacrosse team did not make the postseason. What happens now?
Well the good news is there is no place to go but up. Jim Boeheim is always doing his part. Desko is an excellent recruiter and his coaching staff is excellent, so they should be doing better. Football is obviously the biggest question. Sadly college football makes the athletic world go around. In 2003, when we won the National Championship in basketball, the university still lost money because of the revenue sharing system that the Big East employs, along with the fact that basketball does not make nearly the scratch that football does.
What then does the program need to do? With season ticket purchases falling in football, the people have stated their vote for the program in regards to their coach and team they are fielding. Is this truly fair. In part two, I talked about the status of Robinson’s job. I believe he should be given the season now that he has managed to win a game with this squad. Depending on how the team does this Saturday is if I will back getting a new coach sooner rather than later. Interesting side note is that Coaches Hot Seat labels UConn’s Randy Edsall as the ideal coach for Syracuse. Interesting concept as he was also an alumnus of Syracuse. The father of D1 football at the U of Conn is not so interested in moving, and frankly, I do not think we want him back.
Clearly, the other programs are fine and consistency and history should carry the day. Boeheim is the longest tenured coach at one school, what is even nicer is that it is his alma mater. Desko also played here and should remain for the intermediate future. Seeing as both other teams have alumni as coaches, is does make an interesting argument for Edsall though.
Currently, the athletic department as a whole is fine. Our major sports should not have trouble bouncing back. The money is there for now. There are a few competent people marketing the university. But when it is all said and done, you need to win. Teams have to bring in fans, get revenue, improve facilities, recruit better players, win more, and repeat. If this does not happen, things will go from bad to worse. The football team will eventually get better. Syracuse is not the kind of school that will be beat up on for long. Moves will be made, people will be fired, buildings will be built (thanks Carmelo!). The question remains what will Gross do to make us better, or will his mishandling of the department continue? I am not sure if anyone knows but Gross and Cantor. We here at Orange::44 will continue to keep on top of the State of the Orange and provide crisp analysis and entertaining commentary that is the continuing daily disaster of Syracuse Athletics.
Editor’s Note: This is part three in a three part special report on the State of the Orange. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here.