Orange Watch: After TWO games, some Syracuse football ‘fans’ doubtful?

Item: Talk about a lack of perspective, in this instant gratification society we live in, patience is obviously a virtue, but for crying out loud let the season play out.

Fans are fans, we get that. We used to talk to them on the SU football network postgame radio call-in show before Dick MacPherson got the program back to bowl games for four straight seasons (1987-90) at the end of his tenure, and often times it wasn’t pretty hearing such venom.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately 21st century, the 24/7 news cycle, the real-time social media world we live in today, knee jerk reactions with no deep thought processes behind those reactions are commonplace. But the piling on of Scott Shafer, his staff, and the SU players after only two games to open the season against two pretty good Big Ten opponents, not FCS or non-AQ conference squads, is plain ludicrous.

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Syracuse still has plenty of football left to play

» Related: Syracuse gets blown out by Northwestern

Was the game two performance versus Northwestern worse than game one against Penn State? Yes, it was, but it came against a top 20 ranked team in an unfortunate scheduling sequence of opening up right away against two straight teams from a BCS conference. Not exactly how you want to break in a new staff, a head coach making his debut, and a QB (either Drew Allen or Terrel Hunt) who basically hadn’t played any meaningful games since high school.

If SU opened the season against Wagner then Tulane in the Dome before playing Penn State at MetLife Stadium then a road game against Northwestern, there’s no doubt we would have a different feeling about this team at the end of September then we will in a couple of weeks, even with two expected victories that would even the ‘Cuse ledger at 2-2 before ACC play starts Oct. 5.

If anything, the turn of events, long determined for this season, will lead to an improved annual football scheduling philosophy. That’s exactly what senior associate AD Herm Frazier has diligently been working on since he arrived on campus in late summer 2011, when he found that the program was languishing way behind other BCS conference teams when it came to future schedules, which usually have non-conference games set years in advance.

It’s a tricky balance because for a home season opener you want an almost “guaranteed” victory while being able to draw a decent crowd, and a no-name opponent will help with the former but won’t accomplish the latter, especially in the Syracuse market in which more mainstream “fans” seemingly only turn out for “big names.”

Already for next season two of the four non-conference games are set, Maryland in the Dome Sept. 20, and Notre Dame at MetLife Sept. 27, two BCS foes. That leaves the Saturdays (or other days those weeks) of Aug. 30, and/or Sept 6, and Sept. 13 to fill with a FCS and/or lower level FBS team, before facing Maryland for a second time in as many seasons.

» Related: What we learned from the loss

Let’s see if Frazier can construct the kind of schedule (FCS program, followed by a non-BCS team, Maryland, then Notre Dame) with cooperation from the ACC which would be similar to the basketball team’s two annual exhibition games, that would help the football team grow into next season’s slate with a step-up in competition each week over the first month.

Oh, by the way, many of the fans already claiming Daryl Gross erred in hiring Scott Shafer, include many who also questioned whether Frazier had mistakenly scheduled Wagner for this Saturday’s game (4:00 p.m. ET / ESPN3) because the number of scholarships the Seahawks offer would preclude an Orange win counting towards the six victories needed for bowl eligibility.

Yes, it’s one of those very technical NCAA rules, and Wagner does only offer 40 football scholarships not the minimum 58 that is listed in the rule for a game to be credited to post-season play, but a waiver can be applied if the FCS program does offer financial aid to 90 percent of the roster as an average over a rolling two year period, so the game will count towards bowl eligibility with 10 left to play.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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