What a difference a year makes.
At last season’s media day, the Syracuse football team was coming off its second consecutive bowl win, a thrilling victory over Minnesota in the Texas Bowl. Bowl eligibility had not even been claimed until the final six seconds of the season finale against Boston College, so the two games created an air of excitement around the team.
Hopes were high that the Orange program would continue building off that success. Head coach Scott Shafer wanted to add one more win the previous season’s total, claiming the team’s goal was eight victories. Quarterback Terrel Hunt had greater aspirations, telling the assembled scribes that he wanted ten wins.
And hopes for those marks were dashed very, very quickly. The team was buried under an avalanche of injuries, poor play, and losses.
This time around, the football program’s day to meet the local media was a much more business-like affair.
Shafer made a brief opening statement about the coming season, then answered questions for about 20 minutes. Like on ACC Media Day, Hunt represented the players along with linebacker Zaire Franklin. Each answered queries for about seven minutes and a bow was put on the affair.
Missing this time around?
The media’s ability to request some Q&A time with anyone, which resulted in four assistant coaches and approximately a dozen players on the Manley Field House turf. Along with the extra bodies came a general lighter touch that a free-for-all session of that nature affords.
Saturday’s event was buttoned down, starting with Coach Shafer. Often enthusiastic and easily excitable, Shafer almost completely contained himself, making one brief quip at the outset, then remaining almost exclusively on point and controlled with his answers to the media.
Hunt followed and had none of the braggadocio of last year’s double-digit win hopes.
Franklin was third and had the lightest touch of all three, but that came from his natural comfort in the situation more than anything else. The sophomore linebacker, who appeared on the athletic director’s honor roll in both semesters of his freshman year at SU, was completely relaxed at the podium, even in delivering the day’s sharpest words as the event neared its close: “Last year is over. I’m kinda tired of talking about it, to be honest with you.”
Franklin did not raise his voice and probably not even his pulse as he uttered those words.
While those were not the final words of the day, they put a cap on a very business-like event. The smart money says that the same business-like aura carries over to the field.