Been a long time since I received text congratulations on a gridiron win. Or had buddies asking if I watched the game. Or multiple friends planning road trips for a football weekend in CNY.
From my college buddy Thamel Saturday: “As my standing friend who may be the most hopeless syracuse fan, I congratulate u on the win.”
That strange feeling that has become alien around these parts is called pride. We as Orange Nation have chosen instead to wear the bullet-proof jacket called cynicism. It’s safer. Protects you from embarrassment (of which we know a thing or two over the last five years). We are a self-deprecating bunch, joking about the football program before anyone else does. Beat ‘em to the punch line so you don’t become the punch line.
I’ve riffed a number of times on the air that we eliminated the football program in 2004 to save money for Boeheim’s charter jets. Because how can you admit with any dignity you care about a program that bottom feeds at the floor of college football and wins once per conference season?
The problem is, for most SU fans, we remember the better times. This is not Temple or San Jose State or Duke. It’s only been 11 years since McNabb. Eight since Freeney. That’s only two full sets of graduating classes removed from competing for the conference title and national rankings and a decent bowl game. So, how can we not care – at least a little bit?
But we’ve buried the “care” part until it was safe to come out. And many of us still don’t know whether it is. That USF team might be pretty bad. And Nassib only threw for like 100 yards. And Pitt might take our pathetically optimistic hopes and drag them through the bowels of the Dome Saturday.
So what to think Mr. Doug Marrone? “I’m happy for the players. I’m happy for the people of Syracuse. I’m happy for the student body. I know I’m going to get teary-eyed, but there is something to believe in. You can believe in this team.”
Hope so. Because it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to even do that.