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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

The ACC School Mount Rushmores: Syracuse Final

Well, this was certainly a tough one.  Frankly, narrowing it down to four Syracuse icons is very difficult.  Too many deserving folks get left off.  Based on the comments, and upon further review, it has to come down to Ben Schwartzwalder and Ernie Davis.  For all the lacrosse accomplishments, lacrosse remains a non-revenue sport.  Although many basketball players made contributions, only a few won a national title–Anthony, McNamara, and Warrick.  Does it get won without either of the three?

Still, Ben Schwartzwalder created Syracuse football.  And Ernie Davis won a Heisman Trophy–the only Syracuse player to do so and the first African-American to ever do so.  While Ernie Davis is a hero, it is difficult to choose a player over a legendary coach.  This is especially true when the coach brought the player to campus.  Without Schwartzwalder, perhaps Davis goes elsewhere.  And maybe Davis ends up a linebacker.  Who knows?

The Ernie Davis story deserved to be a movie, but we’ll have to go with the hero here: Ben Schwartzwalder.  He was a military hero, receiving a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, four battle stars, a Presidential Unit Citation and his actions during the Normandy invasion led to a promotion to major.  He coached Syracuse for 24 years, winning 178 games and a national title in 1959.  He brought Jim Brown, Davis, John Mackey, Floyd Little, and Larry Csonka to Syracuse.

Upon further review, however, it is impossible to keep Ernie Davis off the Syracuse Mount Rushmore.  For all that Dave Bing accomplished on and off the court, there is a clear lack of notoriety.  Part of that is because Dave Bing is a very classy individual.  But Bing did not win an award equivalent to a Heisman Trophy.  Bing is certainly a top 5, but we are going to switch things up and give Davis the spot previously reserved for Bing.  Mea culpa.

The final Syracuse Mount Rushmore: Jim Boeheim, Jim Brown, Ben Schwartzwalder, and Ernie Davis.

The original article…

As we discussed previously, these school-wide Mount Rushmores are limited to sports only–players and coaches.  That being said, athletes that have gone on to have careers that have furthered their legend are rewarded also.   And negative publicity will also be factored in.  We do not believe that USC would put OJ Simpson on its Mount Rushmore.  It is what it is.  Admittedly, there will be a recency bias too.  While historical accomplishments are typically quite impressive, coaching college football (as an example) in 1955 was a lot different than coaching today, where coaches rarely get 5 years to make their mark anymore.  Similarly, in an era of up to 14 college football games or 40 college basketball games, as well as daunting pressure from the fans and media, today’s game is more challenging.  That’s our opinion and we are sticking to it.

The Confidential gives the first spot to Jim Boeheim.  As we have heard 1,000 too many times from an ever-creepier Dick Vitale, Boeheim overachieved in landing his wife–but we still have to put his mug on the Mount Rushmore.  The guy has spent 50+ years at Syracuse in one capacity or another–from player to assistant coach to head coach to legend.  Only Coach K has more hoops wins than Mr. Boeheim.  But it is much more than wins, Boeheim is the consummate ambassador for Syracuse.  While he occasionally mutters the regrettable comment, people want to hear what he has to say because it is usually wise and informative.

The #2 spot for Syracuse goes to a football player: Jim Brown.  Brown was an all-everything performer at Syracuse–football, basketball, and lacrosse.  And he is considered by many to be the greatest running back in NFL history–perhaps even the greatest player ever.  Media?  Sure, Jim Brown was an actor too.  And while we often criticize players like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan who shy away from controversial/racial issues, Jim Brown has always been willing to speak up about issues.  He is someone Syracuse fans can be proud of.

The #3 spot is (and the 4th spot will be) exceptionally difficult.  Syracuse is a football school that just happens to have an elite basketball program and accompanying fan base, while also ranking as one of the few giants in lacrosse.  The options for these spots are endless.  How can you not have a lacrosse icon?  Well, Jim Brown is considered by some to be one of the greatest lacrosse players ever too.  So there is that.  In the end, although this will be controversial, the Confidential is going to go with Dave Bing.  Bing is in the discussion for best Syracuse basketball player ever.  He did more in three seasons than most players do in four.  He also had a nice NBA career and then business success.  Granted, nobody was going to solve Detroit’s problems, but Bing stepped up to the plate to try.  The next bad thing I hear about Dave Bing will be the first.

And that leads us to the number four spot.  Get ready for a ridiculous list: Ben Schwartzwalder, Dick MacPherson, Donovan McNabb, Ernie Davis, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little, Tim Green, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, Rony Seikaly, Gary Gait, Mike Powell, Roy Simmons.  It goes on and on.  So that is where you come in–let us know who should be #4.

Who will be the Confidential’s fourth Syracuse Orange in its Mount Rushmore?

Other Mount Rushmores:

  1. Maryland Preliminary   Maryland Final
  2. Boston College    Boston College Final
  3. Wake Forest   Wake Forest Final
  4. Miami   Miami Final
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Syracuse
  7. Virginia
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. North Carolina State
  10. Clemson
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