There’s been plenty of hand-wringing and public castigation of Orange Nation’s projected attendance numbers for Saturday.
As of Wednesday, reports were that Syracuse had sold less than 40,000 tickets to the Carrier Dome for what amounts to be the biggest home football date in recent memory.
The Washington home game was more hyped and the Penn State matchup had more history – but a 4-1 (1-0) start against the Big East preseason favorites on Homecoming has the sizzle and importance.
Bloggers, media types and fans have chewed out Orange Nation upon hearing the disappointing ticket number. CNY will sell 28,000 seats to watch SU thrash the dregs of Big East basketball with thirteen inches of snow on the ground and I-81 choked to a halt. But a huge conference football game on a beautiful fall weekend with BCS implications following a potentially program-changing win? Meh.
For perspective let’s ask Torry Ball’s ever-entertaining Twitter feed: “Well we 4-1 but it’s nothing… We are changing the culture around cuse”
He’s right. Don’t try to compare basketball fervor to football interest. The basketball culture was changed thirty years ago. We believe in SU hoops. We’ve seen three decades of the same coach with the same system with the same results. 20-win campaigns, NBA lottery picks, Big East championships, March Madness berths.
It’s safe to pile on the basketball bandwagon. We know it won’t pop four tires at 120-mph and crash into a nitroglycerin plant (as the football program has done the last five years).
We’d all love a jammed Dome with 50,000 lunatics and deafening noise every Saturday. Syracuse football historically has been pretty good and there’s plenty to be proud of (just listen to Darryl Gross every time he tells us). But there isn’t a national championship seven years ago with four Top-4 rankings (the equivalent to a Final Four) within the last generation. There’s a title from the Eisenhower administration and an Insight Bowl that’s almost a decade old.
Go out and beat the Panthers. Show up in the “others receiving votes” category. Compete for the Big East title and a BCS bid. Then we’ll buy in even more. But if the Orange get smacked by four touchdowns and is actually a 5-7 team that got fat on a pathetic early season schedule, aren’t the fans who didn’t buy in this weekend validated?
Ball is spot on. We 4-1 but it’s nothing. The culture needs to be changed. One Pitt Homecoming weekend at a time.