Item: A first-year coach + a first-year league + a rise in talent = thrilling possibilities for SU football.
The mission statement greets one and all on a banner above the doors to the football program’s entrance inside the Manley Field House complex:
“Our mission is to win with hardnosed integrity while quietly serving our community!”
As the 2013 team filed past that sign and began season preparations for its ACC debut campaign with a media event Sunday and its first practice session scheduled for late afternoon Monday, all eyes are on the author of that statement, the dynamic Scott Shafer, who’s been going virtually non-stop since his Jan. 9 appointment, crafting and developing the foundation of his program and the brand of football his team’s will play in his first opportunity, 22 years in the making, of running the show.
The latter part of that mission statement has seen several examples over the summer as players have indeed quietly participated in events (usually promoted by the university after the fact) ranging from mentoring youths in social programs, to organizing support and raising money in the fight against medical ailments such as brain cancer.
The theme continues next week, when for a second straight year pre-season practice shifts north and into a military mode as the program bonds with those stationed at Fort Drum outside of Watertown for four days.
Now, as to the background of winning with “hardnosed integrity,” a term that resonated with Shafer as he ascended to the job, and that eerily turned out to be a favorite description of Syracuse football played under another “Coach S” – Schwartzwalder, and which was neatly uncovered by Syracuse.com last week as appearing in a 1960 LIFE magazine article chronicling the Orangemen’s “hardnosed” players under Ben Schwartzwalder who defeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl to finish off the national championship season.
This year’s “hardnosed” players, with plenty to prove off an 8-5 bowl victory season (let the QB battle take shape), will get tested early with two tough Big Ten opponents right off the bat away from the Dome, even before the ACC tees off with pre-season 8th ranked Clemson in week six.
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