Perhaps the biggest news of the summer was just announced outside of the Ensley Athletic Center. Interim Athletic Director Pete Sala, along with Floyd Little, former Athletic Director Daryl Gross, head coach Scott Shafer and many others just announced that Syracuse University would be un-retiring the number 44.
The number was officially retired when Gross took over as Athletic Director in November of 2005. Fullback Rob Konrad was the last player to wear 44 for SU back in 1998. According to Sala, the athletic department had the permissions of the Syracuse legends to restore the number and bring it back onto the field.
During the press conference, Shafer and Little emphasized the culture of 44 within the program. Shafer believed it was one of the best symbols in college football, even in all of sports. With Gross no longer heading the athletic programs, it was heavily speculated that this would happen.
In terms of recruiting, the number 44 could be used as a huge chip. For example, Syracuse fans pushed to “#Restore44” during the recruitment of Robert Washington, a four star running back out of North Carolina that verbally committed to SU a few weeks ago. Through interviews with the media, he said that it was a huge honor to be deemed worthy of the discussion.
While many worried about Washington eventually flipping his verbal commitment to another program down the road, giving him the number 44 may be an offer he can’t refuse – further solidifying his commitment. In addition, Washington will have the chance to implant his name in Syracuse running back lore if he puts together a successful career on the field.
It is still unclear how the number will be featured on the team, though. It could be reserved for outstanding upperclassmen, or it may be given to highly touted recruits, like Washington. The number may not be limited to running backs in the future, but for the time being, it looks like the Orange’s top recruit potentially has even heavier expectations now than he did just an hour ago.
Here at the Fizz, we have never fully agreed with hanging 44 up in the rafters, so, to see it come back to the sideline is a huge moment in program history. It is much more meaningful to honor Little, Jim Brown, and Ernie Davis on the field, rather than off the field. Leave the new Plaza 44 to that.
Posted By: Jason Weingold