I could write this column and preview Syracuse’s upcoming football game against the behemoth that is Florida State. The nation’s No. 1 team is the defending national champs, and features last year’s Heisman trophy winner and one of the best players in the nation in quarterback Jameis Winston. The 2014 Seminoles may not be as good as last year’s squad, but they’re still loaded.
But…SU is playing a backup QB and has someone new calling the plays. Saying the game may not be an enjoyable one for SU fans is an understatement.
And, at this point in the year, I’ve already spoken too much about football. It’s October. In certain regions of the country, that means playoff baseball. In other places, it means the NFL and college football.
In Syracuse, the month of October not only represents the fall descent into winter, but also the sunrise of the upcoming basketball season and the sunset of the football season.
For the month of September, we act interested, and sort of are interested, in the football team. There are still traces of summer and a new season is fresh. The Dome is all pigskin, a win or two may be on the record and college football is all around.
But when October hits, you can smell the hardwood. Midnight Madness is around the corner, practices start, and the Dome preps for a little court action instead of a field with endless aluminum bleachers open.
Now, this is no knock on football. The team has grown immensely in the past five years and is respectable. But it’ll take way more than a few good seasons to wrestle the stranglehold basketball has on Syracuse.
In Central New York, and for Cuse fans throughout the country, it’s never too early to start thinking about basketball. And with a likely loss coming against FSU this Saturday, SU fans may need a sport to cheer about come Saturday night.
While it’s great to get excited about football, a 2-3 record doesn’t necessarily get me pumped going into a game against the Seminoles. But a clean slate for the basketball team, even if the squad is missing key pieces from last year, holds promise.
In my four years at SU, from 2009 to 2013, the football team gave me two Pinstripe Bowl wins. Sure, those wins were great, but they pale in comparison to a Final Four, Elite Eight, Sweet 16, a couple Big East regular season championships and a couple number one rankings/number one seeds.
In my opinion (and I was on campus from 2009-2013), the pure excitement from the Final Four run of 2013 tops any other recent SU sporting achievement in terms of fan excitement.
Orange excitement comes from basketball, and I can embrace that. The players come and go. Jim Boeheim is the constant. But the excitement is constant too. SU basketball has had some of its winningest seasons in recent history.
So football can do its thing. I’ll still watch. But as the weather drops more, half of my brain will drift over to basketball. That’s where the party really starts.