A little over two weeks ago, the Syracuse football team was 3-3 after losses to the likes of Middle Tennessee, NC State and a down-trodden LSU team and it faced a daunting task of hosting the defending national champions. Another season of a .500-or-below record was on the horizon.
But a funny thing happened on the way to November…
It seems as if taking down No. 2 Clemson and almost beating No. 8 Miami when Syracuse played far from a perfect game has sparked a bit of belief, not only in the Orange faithful, but more importantly, in the team itself.
And it’s amazing what a little belief can do for the soul…
Now? Does an 8-4 record seem outside the realm of possibility? Not really. When coach Dino Babers proclaims, “I guarantee you people aren’t excited about playing us,” I believe it. When the syracuse.com football faith poll results show 65 percent of the voters say “Pay Dino,” it shows Central New York believes, too.
Earlier this season, I said it was going to take more tangible signs for me to get excited about the future of Syracuse football. Well, beating the top team in the ACC and hanging with the second-best team in the conference would qualify as tangible. Doing it on a national stage has put the rest of the country on notice: this ain’t your older brother’s Syracuse team.
Babers has notched marquee wins in each of his first two seasons now, with this year’s win over Clemson and last season’s upset over Virginia Tech. It doesn’t hurt that the whole country has been exposed to the charisma Babers possesses by seeing his postgame locker room speeches following each of those wins.
The trickle-down effect has already been set in motion. Babers believed from the first day he set foot in Syracuse. His players have bought into his vision. The Orange fans have seen the proof of progress. College football fans across the nation have taken notice of what the Orange can do.
Belief is a very galvanizing force. It causes the whole to be stronger than the sum of its parts. It allows for the unbelievable to be believable. It creates the sense that the unattainable can be achieved.
A lot of time, winning…sustained winning…doesn’t happen until a team believes it can win. That part is in place now in Syracuse. They believe it. We believe it. Syracuse’s opponents believe it.
The building blocks are in place with this Orange football team. The foundation is solid. Now it’s time to continue to build on it.