No matter how many times Coach Mac says it over the years, it’s still tough to hear.
“I think I made a huge mistake in going.”
Tonight, Dick MacPherson will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and that old question still follows him.
Was it a mistake to leave the rollicking Syracuse football program for a two-year disaster in New England?
“See, the thing you ought to make sure is, who the hell are you working for? I don’t think it was a good marriage. I’ve never gotten a divorce before, you know. The thing about it is this, I never got fired until there. I think I had five or six years left on my contract. Fine.”
The Patriots went 6-10 and 2-12 in Mac’s only two seasons at the helm.
It’s the greatest What-If? in SU history. Mac took the ‘Cuse to four straight bowl games in his final four seasons, beginning with the magical 1987 roll to the Sugar Bowl.
He ended his career with an 11-0-1 season in ’87, 10-2, 8-4 and 7-4-2 in ’90. It’s not quite like Coach P buried the program. Pasquoloni had back-to-back 10-win seasons upon taking over.
Plus, Coach Mac’s energy and effectiveness may have been limited as his age climbed. By the time he left for the Patriots, Mac was already 60 years old.
But he considers it a mistake, and the rest of us shake our heads. What if Coach Mac had stayed? Would he be our version of Joe Paterno? Could the magic of ’87 happened again? Would Syracuse be an East Coast power?
It’s nice to see Coach Mac in the hall. It’d be nicer to have answers.