If the delightful weather isn’t enough, fall is an excellent sports season too. College and professional football are hitting their strides, and Major League Baseball’s push for the playoffs is always intriguing.
With so much going on, there’s a lot on the mind. Here are 10 things that have caught my attention of late.
1. I’m tired of conference realignment, but the ACC scored a major coup with the upcoming addition of Notre Dame. This is Big with a capital “B”. It’s only a matter of time before the football program gives up its independence and joins the conference too. Both the school and the conference will benefit from the move. Even now, the team is obligated to play five games against ACC opponents.
2. I feel terrible for the BIG EAST. It’s been beat up, kicked under the bus and left to rot. This is the conference I grew up cheering for—even before I went to Syracuse—and right now, it can’t get much worse. For a conference with great tradition and history, it’s a shame to see it now. I don’t know how—or if—it can recover, but it won’t ever be the same.
3. Congratulations are in order. The Syracuse football team won its first game since last October. Granted, it was a poor performance against the FCS Stony Brook, but it counts. I suppose the team needed to have two poor quarters against the Seawolves to make up for the three quality quarters against USC. I’d love to see this team put four quality quarters together in a game. Saturday at Minnesota would be a good place to start.
4. A sad thought: SU football hasn’t back-to-back winnings seasons since 2000 and 2001.
5. I have to wonder how much the College Classic at MetLife Stadium will improve Syracuse recruiting as much as Doug Marrone and Daryl Gross. Is an annual trip against a top-tier opponent to the Meadowlands worth it? Were the empty seats—and there were many—due to the weather or there just isn’t enough of a draw?
6. Speaking of Gross, he’s now in his seventh year at the helm of Syracuse athletics. He’s put his imprint on the program, hoping to ensure Syracuse is consistently recognized as one of the great athletic institutions in the country. I can’t say much has changed in men’s basketball; the jury is out on football; and, if anything, men’s lacrosse has taken a step back.
7. Evidence: the 2013 men’s lacrosse incoming class is ranked No. 9 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse. That’s not so great for a “premier” program and represents another drop from previous years. The 2012 class was ranked sixth, the 2011 class was second, the 2010 class fourth, the 2009 class fourth. Also concerning: The Orange’s future opponents in the ACC are right at the top. North Carolina, Virginia and Duke have the top-rated classes.
8. However, there have been great strides in Syracuse’s other sports, including field hockey, which is 7-0 and currently ranked No. 2 in the country, and women’s lacrosse, which was runner-up in last year’s national championship. The last time a Syracuse program other than men’s lacrosse or men’s basketball celebrated a national title was 1978 in rowing. That drought might end soon.
9. Here we are three weeks into the college football season and look who’s at the top of the polls. Who’s excited about an Alabama versus LSU rematch? Another SEC showdown? No thanks. I was hopeful USC would have a fighting chance. No longer.
10. A final note: As a New England Patriots fan, I love watching Chandler Jones. He’s going to have a great career there. In two games, he’s already tallied 10 tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack. A lot to look forward to there.