Earlier today, Syracuse.com released part one of an interview between Brent Axe and SU Athletic Director Daryl Gross. This installment was based around SU football and Dr. Gross’ views on the direction of the program. First came a reaction to last football season:
“To know we had a brand new quarterback and everything we lost, yet we still performed at this level (in the ACC), it tells me that Shafer is as special as I think he is going to be.”
It is great that Dr. Gross sees last year as some kind of success. With the loss of players and coaches, it was very impressive for Coach Shafer and the new coaching staff to bring the team to a bowl victory. Nobody knew what to expect going into last season, and Shafer showed he could keep the Orange on track, even with a quarterback change two weeks into the season. It lead to seven wins and a Texas Bowl victory.
On the new uniforms that have become a point of contention among some fans, Gross seemed optimistic about what the uniforms mean:
“They [Nike] banked on us that we are on the rise. That is how partnerships work like that.”
This move was less about what the new uniforms look like and more about what it means that Nike would give Syracuse the chance to get these new uniforms when Nike typically focuses on higher-profile programs. Think of some other Nike programs that have gotten new uniforms this offseason. They include Iowa State and Florida State, both higher-profile football programs than Syracuse.
Gross made an interesting point about the bowl games Syracuse has won over the past few years: the Pinstripe Bowl twice and the Texas Bowl.
“So now they have gone to three bowls in the last four years and won all of them. That really is a story that I don’t think is out there enough. These haven’t been bad bowls. All three of those bowls were against BCS teams: Kansas State, West Virginia and Minnesota.”
Many fans like to think that because the Pinstripe Bowl was brand new it wasn’t a good bowl. Or that because the Texas Bowl isn’t the most well-known bowl, it isn’t worth Syracuse going to. But as Dr. Gross told Brent Axe, the games are more important because of who they are playing rather than where the game is played or how long the game has been around. This is important for fans to realize. Kansas State, West Virginia and Minnesota are all teams from major conferences; Syracuse got lucky in that regard. Instead of playing a lower-quality team that would have received next to no coverage, at least the Orange played three teams that are also major conference programs.
The football team is going in the right direction, and it really seems like Shafer is the right coach to lead the Orange through this. He seems very happy in Syracuse and doesn’t look like somebody who would want to jump ship after he puts in all the work to get Syracuse back to a highly competitive level. And for all the complaining that can be heard, Dr. Gross is the right athletic director to lead SU as it fully immerses itself into the ACC entering its second season.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg