Ever wanted to give up? Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician doesn't know what you're talking about. They cover Syracuse athletics in an attempt to make the unbearable awesome, and have somehow succeeded. They were kind enough to answer some questions for BSD. Make sure to see our responses to their interrogation over at their place.
I know this probably comes up a lot, and with no delicate way to ask, let's start with the obvious question: "Syracuse, what the hell happened?"
To say "Greg Robinson" would be to punish the result instead of punishing the cause. When Paul Pasqualoni was fired, he was done so in a hasty, short-sighted way that left little room for deliberation and fact-checking. The truth is that it was a good thing to remove Pasqualoni, he was the consummate underachiever and Syracuse was stuck in a culture of mediocrity. The problem is, we replaced that with a culture of losing, thereby leaving us to crave mediocrity in the worst way.
AD DOCTOR Daryl Gross hurried through the interview process and put way too much trust in the biased recommendations of others rather than doing the homework. He ended up with a lifer coordinator who was already regressing in his career, received way too much credit based on his team's overall success and was beyond desperate for the chance to be a head coach. Not really the best qualifications.
But we took a chance and we paid dearly. Recruiting is practically non-existent, what little talent exists in New York is going elsewhere and we get to watch Rutgers and UConn become respectable programs while we fade into "bolivian"
Is an end in sight?
Well, we think so. Obviously it starts with removing Greg Robinson. He's proven, or not proven, everything he's going to prove. It's over.
But so much more crucial is who we hire to replace him. I lay awake at night sweating, fearing that we will go for the flashy name hire. Or worse yet, another lifer coordinator or failed NFL coach. What we need is the next Ron Zook. The next Jim Leavitt. We need a master recruiter. We need a young, hungry, determined guy who wants to make his mark and rebuild a program.
Is that person Florida's Dan Mullen or is it ECU's Skip Holtz? Remains to be seen.
We know a bit about rooting for hapless teams ourselves (see "The Dark Years"). We argued about whether Paterno should stay or go long enough that, by the time we were through, he was able to turn it around and win the Orange Bowl. What are the things that keep you going during these trying times?
Kansas went to the Orange Bowl last year after many years at the bottom of the conference. Rutgers went from basement-dweller to perennial bowl team. Illinois, UConn, Kentucky, Vandy...every year there's a team that defies the odds and becomes a quality program seemingly overnight. With the right coach, the right recruits and the right situation, any school can turn around their fortunes in 2-3 years.
According to the all knowing, all powerful Wikipedia, Syracuse emerged, literally on the back of Jim Brown, as Penn State's chief rival. While that obviously faded, does that make this game any more interesting for the 'Cuse fanbase?
I'm from the "new school" of Syracuse fans. I came to SU in 1996, long after the series ended, and it was strange to me that these two nearby schools didn't play. One of my pet peeves is actually that SU should be playing Penn State, Boston College and Maryland all the time. It's nice to see two of those will be happening now.
To me, it's a no-brainer and while it's going to be one-sided for a little while, there's no reason this can't become a quality rivalry again. And as for the older generation, they're probably extra amped up for this game. It's hard to think of a time when neither school played in conferences but back then the Penn State game was about the closest thing to a conference rival for a long time.
And as to why we're not actual conference rivals, let's not even get started on that...
Looking over this years stats, Syracuse appears to actually have an offense. I know it's Northwestern and Akron, but decent completion percentages out of two quarterbacks, and 6.4 ypc out of two running backs ain't bad. Are we being mislead, or is this offense improving? With several PSU players out due to injury and suspension, do you think they have the ability to put up points this weekend?
The ability is there. It's all about the execution. The running game, last year's biggest weakness, is now our biggest strength. Curtis Brinkley and Delone Carter are a very good one-two punch. The offensive line is slightly improved so it allows them to create something that wasn't there so long ago.
The passing game seems to be taking shape as a short-field one. All of our passing TDs have been to tight ends. Our three "key" receivers, Lavar Lobdell, Marcus Sales and Bruce Williams, have three catches between them, and Williams just got put back on defense. The running backs have more receptions than the receivers and that seems to be the key. All of this is a shame because Cam Dantley has an unbelievably strong arm...if only he could use it.
So the problem is clear. Penn State doesn't have to worry about us airing it out. They can key on our running game and force us to beat them through the air. And that ain't happening.
So, the Defense, are they going to be able to keep Royster and Green under 500 yard rushing?
And I say that half-facetiously.
I am trying to reconcile these two things: (1) Greg Robinson's resume, summed up well by the Syracuse AD, "He has had nothing but success in postseason games with four Rose Bowl rings, eight overall bowl victories in eight appearances and seven NFL postseason wins, including two Super Bowls." and (2) The man's current 7-30 record. Can you help me out?
I think Greg has had the good fortune of, up until now, being in the right place at the right time. He caught lightening in a bottle in Denver and at the University of Texas. And really, do you remember the defense from Texas' Rose Bowl victories or do you remember their offense winning those games?
I have no doubt that Greg is a competent defensive coordinator, but he's not a good head coach, plain and simple. He coaches from his heart too much. He doesn't really have the cojones to lay it on the line when it counts most. When pushed, he'll causally throw his players or others under the bus to cover his ass.
Does the man have any chance at saving his job?
None. The Akron loss saw to that. After this game they'll be 0-3. Then we have 1-AA Northeastern, which is now a must-win. If we lose that game, he should (and probably will) be fired immediately after. If we win, that'll probably give him some sort of semblance of a cushion for a "new start." Then there's Pitt, Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia, USF, Notre Dame, etc... At best, we'll go 2-10 and that's not gonna cut it.
Thanks again to TNIAAM, and make sure to check out the blog before the game.