Former Fizz is a new interview series where we talk with previous Orange Fizz staff writers about Syracuse sports from when they were on campus. Topics include specific players and games, special memories and of course Jim Boeheim throughout the years. You can listen to all of the episodes on the Orange Fizz SoundCloud or orangefizz.net.
On the first episode, Damon Amendolara is the special guest. Damon is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Orange Fizz and currently a host for CBS Sports Radio. He was a student at Syracuse University from 1997-2001. He remembers how special Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney were on the gridiron, as well as Big East days on the hardwood. The interview is below, followed by an abbreviated Q&A from the discussion. We hope you enjoy!
QUESTION: Who were some of the football players that stood out while you were a student?
ANSWER: Donovan McNabb during my first two years and Dwight Freeney later on.
QUESTION: How great were McNabb and Freeney as college athletes?
ANSWER: Freeney was a little undersized, but he was molded and developed into the amazing player people know him as. McNabb was a carry over from Syracuse’s glory years from the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was the last great quarterback for SU before the program dropped off. McNabb was the king on campus.
QUESTION: Of the four years you were on campus, which was the best football team and roster?
ANSWER: Definitely 1998 because that was McNabb’s final year and he was a polished product, and he had a lot of NFL talent around him such as Kevin Johnson, Rob Konrad, Quinton Spotwood and Morlon Greenwood.
QUESTION: What was the single-best Syracuse football game you were able to experience as a student?
ANSWER: Virginia Tech vs. Syracuse in 2000 because it was Michael Vick against Dwight Freeney, and Miami vs Syracuse in 2000 because it was right before Miami became a championship powerhouse and there were so many future NFL players on the field.
QUESTION: What was the single-worst football game you witnessed?
ANSWER: Syracuse at Cincinnati in 2000 because the Bearcats hit a last-second, game-winning field goal, which contributed to the Orange not making a bowl game that year.
QUESTION: What was Big East basketball like and having Syracuse be a part of it?
ANSWER: The Big East was so special because there were so many schools so closely gathered so you knew fans of the other schools and the fanbases hated each other.
QUESTION: What made Syracuse basketball so good back then?
ANSWER: Syracuse wasn’t recruiting big names, but instead recruited projects and allowed them to grow in the system, which benefited the team and the players’ future success.
QUESTION: What did campus feel like when March Madness rolled around each year and Syracuse made consistent runs?
ANSWER: It was special and it really helped uplift the students and campus after the horrible Syracuse winters, especially since it snowed 28 straight days during my senior year.
QUESTION: Who would be in your starting five if you could only select players from when you were on campus?
ANSWER: Allen Griffin, Jason Hart, Ryan Blackwell, Damone Brown, Eton Thomas
QUESTION: Was Jim Boeheim as grouchy back then as he is today?
ANSWER: He was even grouchier.