Yeah, the game was a slog for about two hours. Unquestionably, the Texas Bowl isn’t quite the prestige of many other games. Syracuse doesn’t recruit much in the Lone Star State anyway. No matter, the benefits of a bowl win far outweigh the negatives.
It wasn’t that long ago Orange football was locked in a vicious cycle of 3-4 win seasons, led by one of the worst coaches in football history, Groobers. The program was dead, a punch line across America. Recruits stayed away. Fans did as well. People openly rooted against the team so that the coach would be canned.
Five years later, Syracuse might not be a top 25 team, but it has established some football credibility. There’s three bowl wins in four years. All of them came against BCS programs (Kansas State, West Virginia and Minnesota). That’s three nationally televised windows of success in notable stadiums (Yankee Stadium, Reliant Stadium). Better facilities are hopefully on the way. The new staff has already won some important recruiting battles.
You have to crawl before you can walk, and sometimes we (including myself) can forget that during the daily melee that are Saturdays and recruiting. Doug Marrone leaving, much of the staff departing with him, and Ryan Nassib graduating threw a monkey wrench into the continued arc of development this program was undergoing. Scott Shafer at times this year was obviously inexperienced. Terrel Hunt at times looked in over his head. George McDonald at times appeared completely under-qualified for play-calling. But when the dust settled on the ’13 season, you feel much better about the state of all three positions for ’14.
Compared to where we sat a little less than a year ago – a staff leaving, no quarterback, recruiting class dissolving – this is very positive end to the year. Another bowl win. A much better conference. Another step forward in football credibility.