All SU fans know the lengths of the “New York’s College Team” branding over the years. And it always seemed the main competition to the Orange becoming New York City’s college football team would be Rutgers, because they are really the only other program near the city. While the branding has been criticized by some, it has worked to an effect—see those basketball games at MSG and football games at the Meadowlands where SU fans show up big. And it seems like the Orange has taken a hold of the city by having ads on taxis, in Yankee Stadium and by parading its new football uniforms through NYC.
But, speaking to DA and Brian Jones on the MoJo show on CBS Sports Radio earlier in the week, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood had other thoughts:
“There’s no doubt in my mind, Rutgers has always been the football program over the last decade that moves the needle in New York. When you look at ratings and you look at what college football teams are being watched in this area, Rutgers is at the top of the list every time. I was there in person during that 2006 season (when we went 11-2), and I saw exactly what could happen during a magical year.”
Maybe it is fair to say that Rutgers has moved the needle more in the last decade. Between the relative success the Scarlet Knights had during the Ray Rice years, and the struggles of the early- to mid-2000s the Orange had, it is possible more people in New York followed Rutgers.
However, having grown up in New Jersey, being interested in sports, and wishing there was a local college football team to follow, I can say that in 2006 when Rutgers was a win away from the Orange Bowl, only a very small percentage of kids in my school cared about Rutgers football. I don’t even mean a small percentage of all the kids, I’m talking about other kids who liked sports and followed college football.
So yes, maybe Kyle Flood is right, and over the last decade Rutgers has moved the needle more than Syracuse in the New York City area, but does that really mean Rutgers is “New York’s College Team?” Flood goes on to say that he thinks the Big 10 will make even more people interested in Rutgers football:
“Now in the Big Ten – because the level of competition is so much more attractive to the fan base – there’s no doubt in my mind that that this is going to continue to go up as we get started.”
Is Big 10 football more attractive than ACC Football? Maybe. But the question then becomes, which team will be better in its new conference, because the conference doesn’t matter if the team isn’t interesting.
Lastly, this is an overblown issue. Is it nice to have a presence in New York City? Of course. Is it necessary to push the “New York’s College Team” narrative all over New York City? Not necessarily, because Syracuse already holds this position. All you need to do is look at the success they have had selling tickets to football games at MetLife Stadium. Or look at the basketball success, having a Madison Square Garden crowd with nearly 75 percent Syracuse fans for a St. John’s home game.
So, regardless of how Kyle Flood views it, Syracuse is likely the bigger team in the minds of people in the New York area.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg