The Juice, Big Orange celebrates 25 years of covering Syracuse athletics

Big Orange

It’s the 25th birthday of The Big Orange magazine

The Big Orange. The Juice. Sujuiceonline.com.

Twenty-five years ago this month, I was sitting at my desk in the Publications Office at Syracuse University (my full-time job at the time) and I received a phone call from former Associate Athletics Director Joe Szombathy asking me if I would be interested in working for this new independent publication on SU sports called The Big Orange. The owners (who lived out of town) were looking for someone to run the publication in Syracuse. Specialty independent publications catering to their university’s athletics programs were the thing back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.

I remember Joe saying to me that this would be a great opportunity and that I should at least talk to the owners. I said o.k. I will. No sooner did I say that (about 10 minutes later), the owners were sitting in my office at Syracuse University wanting to discuss the position of Editor and Publisher of The Big Orange.

The Juice

The Juice in tabloid format in the early 2000s

I was employed full-time at Syracuse University. Great benefits, a decent salary, tuition reimbursement. I had security, but I wasn’t happy. The job was no longer fulfilling. Life is full of chances. Sometime, you have to take them, or else you will never know.

Two days after I spoke to the owners, I quit my job at SU and accepted the position. Yes, some thought I was crazy, my parents being first on that list, by taking a chance on a brand-new start-up business, but when an opportunity presents itself, my belief is that you go for it, so I did.

I had nine days to put together that first 24-page issue of The Big Orange. Yes, nine days. I thrive on challenges, and this was certainly a big one. I had no staff, needed to hire an art director and writers. I did it and on Aug. 18, 1992, the first issue of The Big Orange was published with Qadry Ismail on our cover.

Since then, it has been nothing but wonderful memories. I’ve covered some of the best athletes to step foot on the hill, including Donovan McNabb, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Carmelo Anthony, Lawrence Moten, John Wallace and the Powell brothers, just to name a few. I traveled throughout the country, following the Orange in football, basketball and lacrosse.

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The job gave me the opportunity to visit Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota (Mall of America), Oklahoma, New Orleans and Morgantown, WV (o.k. not a highlight on my trips). I’ve been to some of the best places to watch college football in the Big House in Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee (snuck my dad in the press box with me-a great memory) and Notre Dame (more boosters in their press box than press) and I attended bowl games during the first 18 years of publishing (sans the Champs Sports bowl), two National Championship games in hoops and every lacrosse Final Four.

The Juice

The Juice in its glossy magazine format in the late 2000s

Twenty-five years. Five different owners (including yours truly and Fox Sports), hundreds of writers including Pete Thamel and Greg Bishop, both students at SU, who both eventually went on to write for Sports Illustrated, Mike Tirico and friend and columnist, Mark Frank, who was never afraid to say it like it was. Over 500 issues published. Only two missed deadlines (the Labor Day storm of 1998 and 9/11).

In the first 10 years of publishing, The Big Orange was a weekly/bi-weekly black and white newspaper. In 2002, the name was changed to The Juice, a color glossy magazine format. And, in 2010, the print version ceased publication, however, thanks to longtime The Big Orange/The Juice writers Brad Bierman and Wes Cheng, kept the publication alive in its current format, sujuiceonline.com. Thank you Brad and Wes!!!

The Big Orange. The Juice. Sujuiceonline.com.

Three different names. Three different modes of publishing. Twenty-five years and one goal…to provide fans with the ultimate source of Syracuse University sports.

Thank you all for your support these past 25 years, and to all those athletes who wore the orange and blue on the hill, thanks for the memories.

For more Syracuse coverage, Like our Facebook page and follow us @TheJuiceOnline.

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