Syracuse Fans: History Repeats Itself
A team that required divine intervention to eke out a win, barely beat an FCS team, and required overtime to win its first game. A team that ended the season on a five-game losing streak. A team with questions surround its offensive coordinator. A once-popular head coach with a sub .500 winning percentage. A bowl season followed up by disappointment. A terrible season.
No, this is not about the 2014 Syracuse Orange football team. This is about the 2011 Syracuse Orange football team. Consider…
The 2011 team required overtime to defeat Wake Forest in the opener. Just like the 2014 team. Of course, Wake Forest had control of the game throughout, until some very good fortune down the stretch allowed it to even get to overtime. Not as much good fortune as the Villanova missed FG, but an opportune injury to Wake Forest opened the door for a Syracuse team that was very overmatched through the game to win. People forget how bad that opener was… despite the final score.
The 2011 team struggled to defeat FCS Rhode Island 21-14. The 2014 team struggled to defeat Villanova.
The 2011 team was very fortune to beat Toledo, aided to some degree by a missed XP being deemed “good.” Perhaps this is the best equivalent to the Villanova win for 2014. Still, these were three wins for the 2011 team that were unimpressive. Even the Tulane win came down to the wire.
To be sure, the 2011 team also had a dominant win over a very good West Virginia team that was not duplicated by the 2014 team. However, the 2014 team had moments against Notre Dame and looked competent against Florida State, before giving Clemson fans much to wail and gnash their teeth about. And the 2014 team did take Central Michigan and Wake Forest to the woodshed on the road. The bottom line is that, after 7 games, the 5-2 2011 Syracuse football team was not THAT much more impressive overall than the 2014 Syracuse football team. The records and domination of West Virginia had fans in 2011 thinking BCS bowl though.
There was no BCS bowl in 2011. In fact, there was no bowl at all, as Syracuse lost its final five games. The team that scored 49 points against West Virginia would not score more than 21 points the rest of the season, averaging about 16. The team that valiantly allowed “only” 23 points to the high-octane Mountainers, would allow its remaining five opponents (record 33-30 overall, including the 5-0 record against Syracuse) to average about 31. There would not be consecutive bowls for Doug Marrone and the Syracuse Orange in 2011.
The 2014 Syracuse offense scored 41 points against Maryland, Notre Dame, and Louisville, with Terrel Hunt at QB, George McDonald calling the plays, and some combination of a healthy Brisly Estime/Ashton Broyld. Without any of the four, the Syracuse offense scored 56 points against Florida State, Wake Forest, and a very very good Clemson defense. But losses are losses, and the season ended on a very sour note with only 41 points scores in the final four games.
Entering 2012, few had ANY faith in Nathaniel Hackett as the Syracuse offensive coordinator. That would continue into 2012, with the team at 2-4 after six games, including a total of 39 points scored against Minnesota, Pitt, and Rutgers. This offense also had Ryan Nassib, who was drafted by the New York Giants. But there was no reason to be confident in Marrone, Hackett, or Nassib midway through the 2012 season.
We know how 2012 ended. The team that scored 39 points over three games, would score 38 or more in four of its final seven games, including a Pinstripe Bowl victory over West Virginia. Nassib would be drafted, while Marrone and Hackett would be off to Buffalo. Sad times to see them go, but surprising given how bleak things were at the end of 2011 and midway through 2012.
Who knows what 2015 will bring? Overscheduling will probably result in similar disappointment at the midway point of next year. And maybe the second half of 2015 will be as disappointing as 2014.
Or maybe Hunt (or someone else) will go on a tear. And suddenly he will have NFL scouts looking at him. And maybe in 2016 we’ll be wondering how it was that Scott Shafer, Tim Lester, and Hunt could have disappointed us so much for ineptitude before disappointing us so much for leaving us behind for greener pastures. The odds are against that happening (i.e. do not take a second mortgage to finance a parlay bet on it). But it is far from impossible. We saw it in 2011-2013.
And if you don’t think history repeats itself, you are not paying attention.