Is Gross Making a Mistake Holding Both McNabb & McPherson Days in ’13?

Is SU just pandering to sell tickets by cramming them both into the same season?

Look, I like the idea of honoring the greats of Syracuse past. It’s cool to see the pictures of iconic Orange moments on the walls of the Dome’s concourse. It’s a good thing to have the banners hanging in the rafters. And both Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson deserve a permanent place somewhere inside the building they helped fill.

No one likes to tip the cap to SU’s past more than me. I own a Sherman Douglas throwback. I still rock the ’88 Sugar Bowl t-shirt. I get a kick out of the black-and-white pics at the Varsity. But doesn’t it feel a little forced to have both a McNabb AND McPherson day inside the Dome this season? From

McPherson will return to campus on October 5 to be recognized when the Orange hosts Clemson and McNabb will take center stage on November 2 when Syracuse faces Wake Forest.

“It is our pleasure to honor Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson and recognize their importance to the history of Syracuse football. We want to recognize these extraordinary men during our inaugural season in the ACC as we look to establish new success,” said Syracuse Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross.

It would seem to make more sense to have celebrated their importance during the final season of Big East football… ya know, the conference where they both played. It just feels like an overt attempt by Gross to push tickets to a luke warm fan base. While Orange Nation is certainly excited about the ACC future, a new coaching staff and first-year starting quarterback has expectations fairly low.

“We truly hope all SU fans will join us during the season to salute the jersey retirement of these two tremendous individuals and their families as we look to compete at the highest level in the ACC as New York’s College Team.”

And there it is. The request for fans to show up at the Dome. Attendance was mediocre last season, and the numbers at the Spring Game fell below SU’s hopes (George McDonald wanted 20,000).

All fans are invited to join ‘Orangenation Rising,’ a state of mind where passion, tradition and die-hard loyalty intersect, by renewing their season tickets or purchasing new 2013 season tickets. Individual game tickets go on sale August 1. Fans can use the internet (, telephone (888-DOME-TIX), or visit the Carrier Dome Box Office (Gate B). Season tickets start at just $99 each.

Orangenation Rising is a state of mind, huh? Seems pretty forced, but this is what Gross does. He can be heavy-handed in his promotion and salesmanship. Understandably, you have to try to sell the product. You need revenue to compete in the ACC, and the athletic department is looking to raise funding for the new football facility. Maybe Gross is looking for a deeper financial commitment from these two living legends, so to bring them into the family and retire their jerseys is a way to embrace them. But it comes off as a transparent attempt to get people to the Dome. Do we really need TWO jersey ceremonies in one season? Can’t SU make it a pseudo-annual affair, and do McPherson this fall, and McNabb in ’14?

Sometimes honoring the past means not cramming it into a 6 game schedule in a blatant attempt at selling tickets.

Posted: D.A.

35 Comments on this Post

  1. OrangeFan

    Alright so your football team is joining a powerhouse conference and it ticks you off that they’re trying to establish a presence? These PR days are not only to sell tickets, they are to gain press on the ACC media stage and yell, “We’re Syracuse Football, and we have a rich past as well, just like Clemson, Florida State, and all of you!”

    You ‘kill or be killed’, and this season is critical to the way SU will be received as a player on the national CFB stage for years to come. Not a forced thing at all IMO. But you’re entitled to your opinion.

    Naturally they want to sell tickets and fill the dome with more people watching – is this at all a surprise?

  2. Russell MacEachern

    Seems stretching over 2 seasons makes more sense since with our OOC meadowland’s game the real home season is so short!!I’d prefer it be sort of a “special” thing that to do twice in such a short span dont feel right!

  3. there’s no doubt su has had some real great football players that deserve this type of attention. with moving into the acc i feel releived that syracuse football will be in a strong conference for years to come. what i feel will be vital for syracuse football though is there determination to improve the football programs facilities to help su in the world of recruiting. this i hope will happen as soon as this year.see all at the dome..

  4. I think that I read somewhere that they have Syracuse finishing 11th in the ACC for football this year. I think everyone in the nation will have a different opinion of the Orange after the season is completed.

    They have Syracuse finishing third in the ACC behind Duke and North Carolina. Now I don’t know how the rest of you feel but I believe will be playing for the ACC Championship in the ir first year of competition.

    Now on top of it all we haven’t discussed the men’s and women’s lacrosse,field hocky team,ice hocky team at all.

    Syracuse is going to surprise a lot of people. If your one of the people who set home on the couch and get fat while watching it live in the dome. Please do us all a favor and stop your damn complaining about the teams when they lose. I just don’t want to hear from people who don’t want to support the programs.

  5. Syracuse women’s lacrosse team is up 8-5 over Florida in the second half of the game. Winner goes to the Final Four.

    Go Ladies.

  6. Women’s lacrosse up 12-7 over Florida. Game has got to be close to being over.

    Mens team is up 4-1 over Yale at the end of the first period.

  7. Syracuse Womens Lacrosse Team joins Maryland and North Carolina in the Final Four next weekend where they will play the winner of the Penn State/Northwestern game.

    The Women’s Lacrossse Team is the second Syracuse team to join the Mens BB Team in reaching the Final Four in their respective sport this year.

    Congratulations Ladies;

  8. Looking to the future,it looks like 3 of the 4 teams making the Final Four are ACC Teams.

    Syracuse is not an offical ACC Team,not until July 1st anyways.

  9. Terry

    No problem at all. Both guys get their day alone and that’s fine. DA is just pro SUBB and these kind of things are weird to him. He was not born in the late 40s, 50’s and 60’s when SU was a national item. His item has always been SUBB. I feel SU needs to educate the CUSE fan(mostly not born in the hey-days of CUSEDOM) about its cherished players and its history. Either an all star or not. Every home game SU should pluck one SUFB player living or passed on and educate the fans to what once was. FB was clearly a winning program before SUBB got to the dome. Just ask us old-timers-DA!!

  10. @Terry;

    It’s all about today Terry,no-one is telling these kids about anything that matters most anymore. The best RB of all time(James Brown)attended Syracuse University

    When asked who they think is the #1 male athlete,they all come up with a name that they watched play yesterday. Not one of them ever mention the greatest of them all Jim Thorpe and or the best female athlete of all time Babe didrikson Zaharias.

    We all talk about Michael Jordan as being the best,but when compared to Jim Thorpe,Jordan fails completely.

    Now on to the future;both the mens and womens lacrosse teams advanced to the Final Four next weekend. That makes three different teams that have reached that goal for Syracuse in their respective sport in 2013. What a way to exit the Big East. I guess they proved who was the best and corner stone of the conference over the last 35 years. I just wonder if any of the teams that’s left is going to kick themselves in the butt after realizing the huge mistake that they made by rejecting that $1.7 billion dollar agreement a couple of years ago.

  11. ACC here we come with our latest conquests in Women’s and men’s LAX today. As for Gross idea of honoring both players, I heard he got the idea from his babysitter.

  12. Terry

    Great time to be a CUSER. Both LAX teams in final four!! Pride Time!!

  13. If the #5 gets retired,it should be Don McPherson’s jersey that get’s raised first. He led the 1987 football team to an undefeated season which ended in a tie game against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

    I know that Donovan McNabb is on the board of trustees at Syracuse and he had a stellar 4 year career here,but I feel he needs to wait his turn before his #5 gets retired.


    the march to the National Championships for the mens & womens lacrosse teams continue. Wouldn’t it be nice/great if both teams won the National Championship Game and brought the trophy bach to Syracuse?

  14. Terry


  15. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,yeah McPherson deserves his day first as he shows us much love on SNYs NY/NJ telecasts where he’s the BE co-announcer with UConns Sean Mulcahy every week on pre and postgame shows after every BE game,not to mention he’s waited the longest!btw Ron,dont forget how good the woman’s hoops team is getting too!

  16. The top four seeds in the womens lacrosse tournament advance to make this probably the best ever Final Four. Here are the matchups to be played on Friday with the Championship to follow on Sunday.

    #1 Maryland vs #4 Syracuse 7:30 pm
    #2 N’western vs #3 UNC 5:00 pm

    After losing the championship game last year,I told the girls that they would have another crack at N’western for the championship in 2013.

    Congratulations girls on reaching the Final Four. Now finish what you set out to do this year,”bring home the 2013 National Championship Trophy”.

    GO CUSE;

  17. Russell MacEachern

    Ron,your like the Fizzfams Ambassador to the individual teams and players since your at SU Central(store)so much…lucky dog lol!!

  18. Carlton

    This is what happens these days to draw ppl to your venue in general. Is it heavy-handed like u say say DA? Sure but when ur product is bad on the field u have to add value to the product some how to get butts in the seats. FSU having Bobby Bowden day this yr so like I said it happens all over.

  19. @Russell MacEachern;

    thanks to my wife setting up the interview four years ago for me,I told the manager of the building,after he told me that all of the athletes came into the store to shop,that I would work for free because of having the chance to meet and talk with the players both male & female was a perk unlike any that I’ve ever had,would put me on cloud nine every time that it happened.

    I enjoy those conversations almost every day that I work and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thanks for the comment Russell,I appreciate it very much.

  20. @D.A,

    I have to agree with Carlton on this issue. We need to recognize the past players not only on certain days during the football season but always. Don MacPhearson and Donovan McNabb were two of the best ever to play in the dome. I watched them both during their career’s and it doesn’t matter to me that it’s going to happen in the same year. Will it put butts in the seats? I don’t know the answer,but I will say that if people don’t show up for these events Syracuse isn’t going to be the loser here. It’s the people who decided to stay home and getting fat sitting on the couch eating potato chips and drinking their damn beers.

  21. BK Cuse

    This is a GREAT MOVE by Gross.

    The bottom line is so we need asses in seats so we don’t embarrass ourselves in the ACC. There should be Big fan promotions at EVERY home game this season

  22. Russell MacEachern

    I agree we should do something to put fannies in the seats even if we give kids,veterans groups or the disabled free or highly discounted tickets until we build back our base because nothing looks worse on tv to recruits or our new conference mates than an “apathetic” following….like Ron says “its perception”!!Theres no reason we should’nt put 43/46G in the seats every game!!

  23. Terry

    There are tons of history freaks out there from all kinds of subjects. I mentioned this before and again now. Every game SU should do a subject manner on a past player from the beginning to 10 yrs ago or etc. The player could be deceased or breathing and invite his family if need be also. This might build back that lost aura of the CUSE football history! After all(I’ll get some smack for saying this) but I can only take so much of the marching band!! I’m not the only one either!! Pee/beer run time for most!!

  24. @Terry – this has nothing to do about me being pro-hoops. I totally agree with everyone here – McNabb and McPherson deserve to have their jerseys raised to the rafters. I just think it cheapens the whole experience when Gross shoehorns both of them into one season simply to sell tickets. Imagine SU had a “legends game” once a year – like homecoming. Where a football legend or team was honored? that would create a nice tradition. Instead its like Gross has to make sure he sells tickets to all these games in a new conference (so that SU doesnt finish dead last in the league in attendance) so he’s willing to use the McNabb/McPherson days as currency. I just dont trust Gross in all of these types of instances. I dont always think he has long term in mind- he sees selling a few thousand more seats on a Saturday vs. the value of honoring greats with a proper ceremony. McNabb is honored during the WAKE FOREST game? I mean come on! And why didnt Gross do either of these last year?

  25. @Terry,D.A.;

    Great POINT COUNTER POINT=great debate and poins of view from both of you.

    @D.A.—I just dont trust Gross in all of these types of instances. Great remark,your joining the people who hasn’t trusted him from the beginning.

    @Terry;—D.A.does bring up a couple of great questions in his response.

  26. Russell MacEachern

    DA,I was thinking the same thing when I heard DG was trying to squeeze 2 former greats into such a small window in a shortened by Metlife real “home/Dome”schedule!!Give them each a day…McPherson first (13) then McNabb(14) on seniority basis!It enriches the experience somehow!

  27. Malone

    @DA I agree that the McNabb thing is a ticket sales thing (like you said, Wake Forest), but I am not convinced of the same for Donnie Mac. His is the homecoming game, and the one that most people want to go to anyway in Clemson. That doesn’t feel like a ticket sales issue to me. I think it is two fold. We should all be aware of the win now or get fired mentality that exists in major sports these days. This applies for AD’s as well, and I think Gross is trying to create a better recruiting environment right now rather than wait till it’s too late, or he’s not around. Use it while you’ve got it, because there may not be a second chance.
    That said, considering it was McNabb that pantsed Clemson in the Gator Bowl, I would have preferred to see him honored during that game, but he is likely the better draw of the two, and therefore having him at Wake is definitly in an effort to combat the lack of interest the fan base may have for that game.

  28. Malone

    Our legacy does not have to be built, thankfully, but it does need to be celebrated. We’ve got alums that NFL franchises would be jealous of, and that can never be publicised enough. I want to see the Dome dripping with Mackey, Morris, Monk, Ringo, Brown, Little, Davis, Darius, McNabb, Harrison, Mare, Anderson, Ismail, Gedney, Paul, Czonka, Coughlin, Freeney, MacPherson, Walker, Moore, Owens,… my god what a list! These were all great college and in most cases pro players. These are pro fooball HOFers. SB winners. These are the kinds of accolades any recruitwants at the end of their bio when they finally hang them up. This is the tradition we can offer.

  29. Terry

    I still have no problem with both of them getting some pub!! We have basketball/football jerseys there but not enough LAX jerseys there. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t SU-LAX the number 1 championships winning program by lots at SU. There should be a wall there for them. For they won many national championships for LAX!! Their history is unchallenged!! DA I still feel your stronger BB tendencies there sorry!!

  30. @Carlton;

    It seems Carlton thatFSU and Coach Bowden have forgotten what happened 4 years ago.

    Taken from an article on ESPN;

    It’s great to hear that Florida State will honor former coach Bobby Bowden at a game this season. Four years ago, the university shoved Bowden out the door, and the only one who acted with any honor was Bowden. He maintained his distance from the program even when he got past his own hurts because he wanted to give Jimbo Fisher, his hand-picked successor, room to establish himself. And now the time has come. Bowden accepted the university’s offer with grace, proving that class never ages.

    I agree with the fact that Coach Bowden was and always will be a class act. I wish I was there to watch the ceremonies live.

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