In college sports, a school has one of two options—you can be basketball school, or you can be a football school. And if your school is lucky, you can pull off the double threat.
Syracuse is not one of them.
And this season will prove to be no different. The football team is mediocre again (shock of the day) and the basketball team seems to be on its way to yet another promising season (as expected).
Football will never compare to basketball at SU, and that’s known. Sure, at one point football held the torch. About 60 years ago. But ever since the Legend of 44 faded away and Jim Boeheim took over the basketball team, this school has been all about basketball. And it hasn’t let down in that category.
Of course, football is where the money comes from and most schools are football schools. Nothing like school pride on those fall days outside, right?
Sure, Alabama and LSU look like awfully exciting places to be on Saturdays. But the game of basketball brings a kind of non-stop excitement. And Syracuse owns it. Does SU really need a good football team to be considered a great sports school when its basketball team covers so much ground?
Consider this about the basketball and football teams — the basketball squad is consistently a national contender while the football team continues to muddle around in mediocrity. If you take a look at the previous three seasons, the best Syracuse football has done is finish 7-5 and win the Pinstripe Bowl. During that same 2010-2011 school year, the basketball team happened to have its worst season out of those three years. By “worst,” I mean 27-8 and Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament.
The football team is 4-5 this year and hasn’t looked awful. I’ll give them credit. But it also has not been overwhelmingly promising.
Enter basketball season. We’ve only seen preseason play so far, but the team looks as good as you can look in the preseason. Thoughts toward football have swayed, as usual, toward basketball thoughts. The news of Syracuse recruits committing to the Orange takes precedent over football news.
It’s really amazing how the Carrier Dome has split personalities. When it comes to football, it feels like a glorified high school game. Sorry, but it does. When it comes to basketball, all you see is a sea of Orange. It’s crazy.
‘Cuse won’t be challenging the Alabama’s or LSU’s of the world for football supremacy. The Orange may never have a quarterback like Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, who cried and talked (or wept?) in his Alabama drawl after beating LSU on Saturday.
But the ‘Cuse will pack the Carrier Dome (and many opposing arenas) and fill them with the most deafening cheers you can get in college basketball. While presumably crushing the opponent.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of football in this nation, there’s something remarkable about college basketball. It engages us like no other sport. Where else can you be down by 10 points with five seconds left and think you can win a game? What other event in sports holds our attention like March Madness? And the games happen more than once a week!
Sure, football will always be football, and as a Syracuse student, there will always be those days when I’ll think, ‘Man, I wonder what it feels like to go to a “real” football school.’
But then I think about our basketball pedigree. And basketball is understood by the common folk (and the international folk!). And I’ll remember to be thankful that Syracuse has such a top-tier basketball program. Because while the football team’s success comes and goes, basketball will always be there.
For now, at least.
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