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Mellow at the Meadowlands: Pros/Cons to Syracuse at MetLife

Should the MetLife games continue for the Orange?

There is no hiding that spirits are down in Orange Nation. Fans witnessed the Orange fall to 2-2 after yet another loss at MetLife Stadium. Many have heard that MetLife games are important to the program for recruiting, brand, image, etc., but the results have not translated to winning on the field. Isn’t that the most important thing?

We evaluate the pros and cons of MetLife games on Syracuse’s schedule and if the games should continue.

Pros:

  • Attendance surge: One area that has been working is getting people into seats. Syracuse and Notre Dame played in front of a MetLife record 76,802 fans for a college football game. Although the stadium was clearly pro-Notre Dame, there was a strong Syracuse presence compared to past years. It does not hurt that commercials and advertisements for the game have been on national television programs for the past few weeks. If demand stays strong for the MetLife games (depending on the opponent of course), it would be hard for Syracuse to say no to future matchups.
  • Money, money, money: Joe Giansante, Syracuse’s chief of communications, told ESPN Radio that Syracuse made “five times an average bowl” off the Notre Dame game. Syracuse has several new revenue streams including the ACC television deal and the MetLife games to finance new ways of making the football program better. He did mention in the same interview how when they made the deal, Syracuse was in a different position. The Orange needed to find innovative ways of making money back in the Big East. Now, Doc Gross needs to evaluate the MetLife games to see if they are a necessity or more of a luxury with local fans waiting patiently for big matchups to return to the Dome.
  • Tri-State Recruiting: According to CuseNation.com, there were over 20 recruits that attended the game. Some of these recruits include commits like Dontae Strickland and Colin Bryne, while prospective recruits such as Qaadir Sheppard and 2016 OT Liam Smith showed up as well. This is a time in college football where playing primetime games in an NFL stadium can sway a recruit. It is also important to note the locations of most recruits who attended. Granted, high school recruits do have their owns games to play, but the majority of recruits who were at the Meadowlands were either from New York or New Jersey. This is a good sign for a program trying to snag local recruits away from the likes of Rutgers and Penn State.

Cons:

  • Automatic losses: Syracuse is never favored going into games at the Meadowlands. The game has almost become an automatic loss that can have negative implications once ACC play starts. One of the main reasons why the MetLife contract was signed was because Syracuse was still in the Big East and could afford to play these games in a weak football conference. However with the switch to the ACC, Syracuse has to deal with Clemson and Florida State every season in a highly competitive division of the ACC. A lack of bowl presence this year might be enough for the Syracuse athletic department to reconsider playing the games at all.
  • Why not the Carrier Dome?: The LSU series is a great example of how the college football landscape has changed possibly for Syracuse’s benefit. The Tigers scheduled a home-and-home series with the Orange that would probably not have happened if strength of schedule was not so important to getting into the playoff. From LSU’s perspective, a win at the Carrier Dome looks more impressive to the selection committee than a win at a neutral site. The Orange might not need to go to MetLife if teams are willing to come up to the Hill.

It is hard to give a yes or no answer as to if Syracuse should honor the MetLife contract and schedule more games in the future. Syracuse has clauses in the contract that could give the Orange the option to not schedule any games past 2016. Because MetLife Stadium has become an attractive venue for other sports and events, officials might be inclined to scrap future Syracuse games at the Meadowlands past 2016 to accommodate more profitable events. The best option for Syracuse would be to see if teams would be willing to come up to the Dome for home-and-home series.

If the Orange can lock up more deals like the LSU series, MetLife should not be considered going forward despite a hit on recruiting in the NYC area. Will recruiting suffer? It depends on how you look at it. An upset at the Carrier Dome against a top-ranked team on national television could yield the same – if not better – results that MetLife games are producing now. Better games in Central New York might finally inspire a fairly dormant fanbase to pack the house regularly instead of only a few games a year.

Posted:  Zephan Mayell

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