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Around the A.C.C.: August 23, 2016

As we all patiently and not-so-patiently await the start of the college football season, there is not much actual news to report.  Every blog and newspaper covering every A.C.C. school is knee-deep in their articles about why each and every player is going to surprise everyone this year, giving hope (and often false hope) to fans.  So be it.  That is what makes college sports so fun.  The hope is legitimate.  Anyway, here is what is happening at several schools:

So there it is… August 23, 2016.  Football is coming, folks.  Hang in there.


2016 Syracuse Football–Are Any Prognosticators Optimistic?

The Confidential has already disclosed its over-under for Syracuse, placing it at 4.5 regular season wins.  Turns out, many are projecting Syracuse to win 3 or fewer games, and perhaps even finish last in the ACC Atlantic.  Well, for whatever its worth, Las Vegas used an over-under of 4 wins for Syracuse.  But, most of the feedback to the Confidential was that 4.5 regular season wins was a fair estimate given the new coaching staff, existing talent, and the typical overscheduling by the Orange.  But any prognosticators projecting Syracuse to go “over” the 4.5 regular season win total?  Did some research today.  Turns out there are some:

TodaysU predicts that the Orange will go 5-7, beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, and Boston College.

CollegeFootball News was more optimistic for the Orange, predicting 6-6.  They have Syracuse beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

CampusInsiders, similarly, has Syracuse at 6-6 by beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

Way back in January, Brent Axe predicted 5-7, with wins over Colgate, UConn, Wake Forest, Boston College, and NC State.

The NunesMagician blog also did some “fuzzy math” projections in January, coming up with 4.6 wins.  Hey, it’s “over” the 4.5 over-under!

SB Nation had a TON of analysis of the 2016 Orange football team, settling on 5.5 wins.  Definitely check out that article.

So… Syracuse fans… not everyone is doom and gloom.  There is some reason to not already look ahead to 2017 and instead see the very real possibility of a bowl game in 2016.

Did we miss anyone’s positive preview/projection?  What do you think?


The Confidential’s 2016 Football Over-Under: Syracuse

Last year, the Confidential unveiled over-unders for each ACC school.  For Syracuse, the over-under was set at 5.5 regular season wins.  Ultimately, the Orange fell short of that, resulting in a coaching change.  This year, there is optimism with a new coaching staff and scheme–but concern regarding the defense and the ordinarily challenging OOC schedule.  The Confidential sets the over-under for Syracuse at 4.5 regular season wins.

Here is the schedule for 2016:

  • 9/2/16: Colgate
  • 9/9/16: Louisville
  • 9/17/16: South Florida
  • 9/24/16: @ UConn
  • 10/1/16: Notre Dame (neutral site)
  • 10/8/16: @ Wake Forest
  • 10/15/16: Virginia Tech
  • 10/22/16: @ Boston College
  • 11/5/16: @ Clemson
  • 11/12/16: NC State
  • 11/19/16: Florida State
  • 11/26/16: @ Pitt

Very likely wins: Colgate, UConn

Very likely losses: Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State, Pitt

Verdict: Syracuse has struggled to beat Pitt on the road (since 2001) and is a long shot to beat Notre Dame, Clemson, or Florida State.  Still, it is not hard to believe that the team cannot find a few wins among USF, Wake Forest, Boston College, and North Carolina State.  Also, look for Dino Babers’ squad to pull at least one mild upset–perhaps Louisville or Virginia Tech.  A bowl game may be a year away though.  The Confidential sets the over-under at 4.5 wins.

What do you think?  Will Syracuse go over or under 4.5 regular season wins?

Syracuse A.D. Mark Coyle Already Leaving Position

Welp, that did not take long.  Recent athletic director hire Mark Coyle is already leaving Syracuse for the greener snowier pastures of Minnesota. refers to “family reasons,” which would be a very good reason for such a move.

At Minnesota, Coyle will be able to compete in a division with Wisconsin and Nebraska in football–a step down in competition from Florida State and Clemson.  Of course, the history of Gophers’ sports is not exactly riddled with bowl successes and Final Four runs.

In any event, Minnesota is likely flush with all that Big 10 cash, as that conference shows its true colors by putting money ahead of every decision.  And, in reality, it is only that the Big 10 is simply better at converting athletics into cash than most other conferences.  The same hypocritical agenda is in place in the ACC, as well as all other conferences.  Meanwhile, the sheeple of this world continue to believe that Universities have any morally sound agenda whatsoever.  Regardless, Minnesota has money than Syracuse simply does not.

As for Syracuse, they are still a P5 school that can pay more than most other non-P5 schools.  As the Coyle hire was good, there is reason to be confident that the Trustees will make another good hire.  For the most part, other than (a) not getting joined in a conference with Penn State somehow; and (b) hiring Greg Robinson, Syracuse athletic directors have done a very good job over the past 40 or so years.

Pearl Washington Passes Away at 52

Sadly, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington has passed away.  As a Syracuse Orange fan from birth and one who remembers the early days of Louie and Bouie, there is no doubt that The Pearl was the most important player in converting Syracuse from an interesting regional team to a national power.  Hey, just ask Jim Boeheim.  Although he was from New York City, only several hours from campus, Pearl was a major recruit and promised to bring great things to Syracuse before leaving.

Indeed, he was interviewed during halftime of a Syracuse game and indicated as much.  It did not take long to fulfill that promise:

Yes, one of the greatest moments in Syracuse basketball history.  Unreal at the time.  Unreal today.

In today’s world, words can be meaningless.  It can be said that Pearl had an amazing crossover.  But you have seen a few other ridiculous ball-handlers since Pearl too.  It can be said that Pearl was one of the few players in college basketball who could take on Georgetown and Patrick Ewing–and you would be right.  But, for many, Ewing is a distant memory too–a good to great NBA player, but forgetting how dominant he was in college.

If only his skill could be described.  For any generation, and certainly today’s generation, it would be better to just give you a video.  And ask yourself if you can find players doing these Pearl things BEFORE did them.  Good luck with that.  Anyway, enjoy the video:

As you can see, amazing things with the basketball.  And that does not do justice to his skill set and demonstration of it game after game.  There were few games where Pearl was not dominant–if not scoring, then by dishing the ball.  He certainly made his teammates better– a great compliment.

Pearl will always be remembered by Syracuse fans that were old enough to see him live.  He will be remembered as a “one of a kind.”  He will also be remembered as a great ambassador for the program after his career ended.  Really, it is hard to come up with too many negatives about Pearl.  He was a legend, more than worthy of being called “The Pearl.”

Nationally, he was a player that fueled the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry that helped popularize the Big East and even ESPN.  We might not have ESPN2, much less ESPN3, without those early catalysts from the Big East.  Not a bad legacy.  Although his NBA career was surprisingly underwhelming, Pearl is… sadly, was… one of those great college legends that simply never made it professionally (just like most Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, in fact).

As you get older, you will find that the age where you say “that man was too young to die” gets increasingly older.  But perhaps there is little dispute that 52 is too young to die.  And it certainly is.  But Pearl used but a few of those 52 years to create eons worth of memories.

On behalf of all college basketball fans, and certainly Syracuse fans, the passing of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington is a reason to mourn.  And remember.

Syracuse Orange: Is the NIT Actually Better For The Team? No.

If you watched Syracuse Orange basketball this season, you saw a very flawed team.  You absolutely did not see a team capable of getting to the Final Four.  A few good wins do not change that, especially with several months in between them.  This was just not a very good team.  Yet it is squarely on “the bubble,” meaning that it could still somehow eke into the field.  The question that begs is whether Syracuse would be better off in the NIT this year.  The answer is “no.”

Before proceeding, let’s not pretend that any program would turn down an NCAA bid to go to the NIT.  Even if you have a one in a trillion chance of winning it all, you want that opportunity.  You also want that exposure and experience for the players.  You never, ever turn down an NCAA bid.  Instead, the issue is whether it would be better for Syracuse to (a) be in an NCAA field where winning 2 games is unlikely; or (b) in an NIT field where there is a chance of winning the whole thing and playing several games.

The thing about (b) is that it ignores reality.  Boeheim is what he is–he is never going to play young players just to get them experience.  He does not do it against Cornell in December, he is not going to do it in the NIT where it is win or go home.  The idea that we would suddenly hand over the team to young players ignores all history and tendencies.  At best, it would be a few extra minutes in games other than blowouts.  Maybe there could be a blowout in an NIT game, but that would be it–one.  If this team was capable of blowing out opponents, it would not be on the bubble in the first place.

And is it fair to Silent G to keep him on the bench?  He deserves to score and impress NBA scouts.  Cooney, for all his ups and downs, does not deserve to be benched.  Coleman needs work on all facets of his game, so it would be foolish to not play him as much as possible.  And so on.  How can you play ANY game with a goal to get experience, rather than win?   This is not the NFL preseason, it is a one-and-done tournament.

But perhaps most importantly, there is no reason to believe that this team could win more games in the NIT playing younger players.  If this team’s young players were not good enough to play limited roles during the season in big time games, there is no reason to believe that throwing them out there in NIT games is going to lead to automatic wins and “experience.”  Stated otherwise, these young players would lead Syracuse no farther in the NIT than the experienced players would in the NCAA.  And, if that is the case, what good is the NIT?

There is no need for a few more home games in the Dome in front of 11,000 apathetic fans.  Historically, Syracuse has blown games against Florida State and UMass in similar situations where the bubble went the wrong way.  The deep NIT runs have been few and far between.

All in all, there is little or no silver lining to going to the NIT.  Syracuse fans do not need to jump off buildings if the Orange are sent there, and there is certainly no reason not to take the games seriously (as fans or players), but do not pretend that it is “actually better” for Syracuse to go to the NIT instead of the NCAA.  At least, that is the opinion here.

Syracuse Plays Itself Back Onto the Proverbial “Bubble”

Heading into Syracuse’s matchup with Florida State, Syracuse may have been on “the bubble,” but it was sitting pretty nicely on the right side of same.  A win over a mediocre Florida State team would be enough to start planning for one of the eight nice destinations reserved for the Big Dance.  Instead, Syracuse lost–for the same reasons that it often lost this year–placing itself right on the bubble and allowing other teams to share control of the Orange destiny.

This is what ESPN’s Bubble Watch had to say about Syracuse before the FSU game:

Syracuse [19-11 (9-8), RPI: 52, SOS: 37] When your career wins tally runs just shy of four digits, you don’t much go in for moral victories. Were Jim Boeheim inclined, even briefly, to entertain such a heretical notion, Monday night’s 75-70 loss at North Carolina would be a fine time to do so. The Orange played a very good team to a near-draw on the road; they even cut a 13-point second half lead to only one with two minutes left to play. And they did so despite guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney’s combined 3-of-13 effort from 3 and 9-of-27 night overall. Even forward Tyler Roberson — who spent the past week in the deepest and darkest recesses of Boeheim’s doghouse — grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a good night in every way but the final score. Whether that will mean much to Syracuse’s currently solid but nonetheless still vulnerable odds of making the NCAA tournament probably will have more to do with Saturday’s trip to Florida State (and, most likely, how the ACC tournament unfolds). But if the eye test can be graded on a curve — and really, isn’t that the whole point — Monday was a win.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, meanwhile, had Syracuse fairly comfortable as a 9-seed.

With the loss, Syracuse drops to 19-12 overall and 9-9 in ACC play.  This is 10th in the ACC, as Virginia Tech and Clemson each got to 10-8, while Pitt’s 9-9 includes two wins over the Orange.

If that was not bad enough, Syracuse now has to play that very same Pitt team in the ACC tournament.  Even when Syracuse is dominant, Pitt gives it trouble.  With a middling Syracuse team, the law of averages is not quite what it might ordinarily be–a third loss is far from unlikely.  If so, Syracuse will be merely 19-13.  That makes for some short nails on selection Sunday.

If Syracuse can beat Pitt, it will get more comfort, but then have to face the #1 seed in the ACC.  Whomever that is, it will be a daunting matchup, leaving Syracuse very likely to lose and end up at 20-13.  So there it is–a best case scenario of 20-13.

But this is not shocking.  For a good shooting team, Syracuse does not shoot well consistently.  This is because you can count on several poor shots from a shot-selection standpoint every game.  These might as well be turnovers–which are also on the rise.  With spotty rebounding and very little inside presence on either side of the court, all there is most night is a hope that they will out shoot the opponent.  Which brings things back to the aforementioned inconsistency and shot selection.

To be sure, if Syracuse was to get into the Big Dance and then get into the 2nd round, some higher seeds would have to be pretty nervous about Syracuse having a great shooting night and pulling the upset.  Even that is only likely to happen once, meaning that the prospects of a deep march into March are as slim as for those who win the tiniest of conference automatic bids.  It will be nice to be on the bracket, but a second weekend would be the upside and a not very likely one at that.

For a down year muddied by NBA defections and NCAA suspension follies, the season could have been much worse.  Much much worse.  Nevertheless, this is a team that is doing everything it can to not control its own destiny, which usually ends poorly.  This team is on the bubble because it is a bubble team.

Should ANY Syracuse Athlete Be Allowed to Wear #44?

A photo in a blog entry over at featured a Syracuse lacrosse player wearing the hallowed #44.  Indeed, this year’s lacrosse roster has Matt Harris donning the number.  And there are other Syracuse Orange players wearing the number: field hockey’s Megan Evangelista and lacrosse’s Mary Rahal.  No athlete should have their number taken away.  And this is not to criticize any of the three for choosing that number–few Syracuse athletes would turn down the opportunity to wear #44.  But, moving forward, should Syracuse retire the #44 for all sports?

On this issue, the Confidential remains silent.  First, it is not clear that #44 should be retired for football, much less all sports.  Second, on the other hand, #44 is a number that identifies with Syracuse unlike almost any other number at any other institution.   Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Derrick Coleman, John Wallace.  The zip code.  And so on.

Instead of opining, the Confidential will simply invite commentary: If the 44 is retired from football and basketball, and is the number that defines the University as a whole (see the zip code change), does it make sense for any Syracuse athlete to be allowed to wear the number?   Let us know here or on Twitter.


Syracuse Dome Upgrades–Nearby Football Stadiums & Capacity

With Syracuse University pondering renovations to the Dome that may or may not involve a season of sports requiring relocation, it is interesting to consider the closest football venues and capacity.  As someone who attended a “home game” off-campus (Ithaca against Boston College) while the Dome was being constructed, it is certainly possible for CNYers to attend such games.  In any event, here are the capacities/distances of the nearby stadiums in New York:

  • Ralph Wilson Stadium–the Buffalo Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park seats approximately 72,000 (71,870)–2.5 hours from Syracuse;
  • Yankee Stadium–the New York Yankees’ baseball field in the Bronx converts to football and seats approximately 50,000–4.1 hours from Syracuse;
  • Mitchie Stadium–Army’s stadium at West Point seats 40,000–3.5 hours from Syracuse
  • UB Stadium–Buffalo’s stadium in Amherst, NY seats approximately 30,000 (29,031)–2.3 hours from Syracuse
  • Schoellkopf Field–Cornell’s stadium in Ithaca, NY seats approximately 25,000 (25,597)–1.1 hours from Syracuse

Given Syracuse’s attendance issues, it would not be ridiculous to think that Schoellkopf field would be appropriate for home games involving an FCS opponent and an OOC opponent from the MAC.

Mitchie Field is seldom discussed because it is farther away than the Buffalo area, but it is closer to New York City, without actually having to get into the city.  Playing Wake Forest or a lesser tier OOC school might be a good way to get exposure to Syracuse fans living in the corridor from Albany down.

There is no real reason to use UB’s stadium, other than just having no choice.  For an extra 4,000 seats, doubling the distance from CNY negates same.

The pro stadiums have a lot of intrigue relative to big-name opponents.  While some talk of Syracuse playing Pitt in Buffalo, that would essentially invite Panthers’ fans to attend.  It is unclear why such a Pitt-friendly venue would be chosen.  Better to play Pitt at Yankee Stadium and Boston College in Ralph Wilson stadium to allow Syracuse to have the maximum edge.  Unless the pro stadiums will charge less for fans in the stadium, providing a financial incentive, these “home games” could quickly become “road games.”

One other option, of course, is to do a traveling season that includes exposure outside of New York and hits recruiting areas.  If Jim Harbaugh can set up spring break practices in Florida, is there any reason why Syracuse could not play a “home game” in the Beltway to get some exposure there?  Or even in the Carolinas?  If New Jersey can be a site for a “home game” against Notre Dame, it is not much more of a leap to have a few home games through the ACC’s borders to get further exposure.  Syracuse versus Wake Forest in Jacksonville in front of 15,000 fans might have more value than having 18,000 people show up at a New York stadium.  Heck, given some attendance at Miami games, the Hurricanes would probably be jealous to see Syracuse-Wake Forest pull in 15,000 fans… ha ha ha.

The Confidential would do something like this for 2017 (which has a trip to LSU and a home game against CMU, as well as home games against Wake Forest, BC, Clemson, and Pitt):

  • FCS opponent–Schoellkopf Field
  • MAC opponent: Central Michigan–Schoellkopf Field
  • Wake Forest: Florida venue–Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, or Miami
  • BC: Schoellkopf Field (need to exorcise the demons of that last loss in Ithaca)
  • Clemson–Ralph Wilson Stadium
  • Pitt–Yankee Stadium

It probably makes sense to use the construction year to schedule a road OOC game with the home game to follow.  For example, a road game against Army or U.B. in 2017, with a home game to follow in some other year would allow another New York game.  Games against Temple (Pennsylvania), Ohio MAC schools (Ohio), Florida G5 schools (Florida), and other G5 schools could provide exposure elsewhere in exchange for a future home game in the newly renovated Dome.

In any event, there are lot of options.  What would be your ideal blend of six home games if the Dome was shut down for a year for renovations?



The Top 44 Football Players in Syracuse Football History

The legend of the number 44 and Syracuse is well-known to any fan that watches an ESPN game featuring Syracuse.  If you need more, see here.  In any event, with 44 such a crucial number for Orange fans, it only stands to reason that all lists involving Syracuse should be the “Top 44.”  And so it is.  Here are the top 44 Syracuse Orange football players–based on their college, rather than professional, accomplishments:

  1. Ernie Davis–the sole Heisman Trophy winner at Syracuse and the first African-American to win the award, as well as the second legendary #44.  Oh, and he was part of the 1959 National Championship team.
  2. Jim Brown–almost a #1 based on his dominance and status as the first legendary #44.
  3. Floyd Little–the third of the trio of #44 backs that dominated the 1950’s and 1960’s, Floyd Little cements his status by being a constant contributor to the program decades later.
  4. Don McPherson–of all the QBs in Syracuse history, McPherson was the one that went 11-0-1 and had Syracuse finish in the top 5.  That had not happened since the top 3 were on the field and has not happened since (1987 to present).
  5. Tim Green–this local phenom helped restore Syracuse by deciding to stay home and wear the Orange.  The Syracuse defense under Coach Dick MacPherson was stout and it began with Green and company.  45.5 sacks is still atop the Syracuse list.
  6. Donovan McNabb–two BCS bowl appearances and four years at starting QB have McNabb way up the list.  Next to McPherson, Syracuse accomplished much under McNabb, including some HUGE wins.
  7. Joe Morris–the Syracuse leaderboard still has Joe Morris at #1…. above all the legendary #44’s and others.
  8. Marvin Graves–2nd in all-time passing yardage and led Syracuse to consecutive 10-2 seasons.  A very, very good QB that gets overshadowed by McPherson and McNabb.
  9. Marvin Harrison–while Art Monk had a notable pro career rivaling Harrison and played in less pass-happy times, one cannot deny Harrison’s numbers atop of the Syracuse record charts.
  10. Dwight Freeney–while Green was tough, Freeney’s speed is unlike anything ever seen before or after.  He could dominate games and did.
  11. Walter Reyes
  12. Larry Czonka
  13. Art Monk
  14. Markus Paul
  15. Dan Conley
  16. Ted Gregory
  17. Ryan Nassib
  18. Donovin Darius
  19. Darryl Johnston
  20. Kevin Abrams
  21. Bill Hurley
  22. Jim Collins
  23. Anthony Smith
  24. Alec Lemon
  25. Tommy Myers
  26. Arthur Jones
  27. Chandler Jones
  28. Rob Moore
  29. Shelby Hill
  30. Qadry Ismail
  31. Quinton Spotwood
  32. Jim Ridlon
  33. Keith Bullock
  34. John Mackey
  35. Scott Schewedes
  36. David Bavaro
  37. Rob Drummond
  38. Kevin Mitchell
  39. Tony Romano
  40. Jim Ringo
  41. Terry Wooden
  42. Kevin Johnson
  43. Joe Alexander
  44. Vic Hanson

Obviously, there are more than one way to list 44 players…. so what do you think?  Did we miss anyone deserving–especially old and recent… seemed like a bias towards the early Carrier Dome era (1980-2000)?  Could have spent additional hours on this–making sure nobody was missed.  How about the rankings?   Is your top 10 different?


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