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.
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