The late great Dick MacPherson used to say something like this…in football everyone forgets about September, sometimes October, but they always remember November.
November is a month that Syracuse fans would like to forget. The Orange has now lost 15 of its last 16 games in November. Not to mention, they will be sitting home during the holiday season for the fourth straight year, as they once again are not bowl eligible.
After upsetting defending National Champion Clemson 27-24 on Oct. 13 to up their record to 4-3, Syracuse needed just two more wins in the final five games of the season to make its first bowl game appearance since 2013. Looking at the final five games on the 2017 slate-Miami (Oct. 21); Florida State (Nov. 4); Wake Forest (Nov. 11) Louisville (Nov. 18) and Boston College, it was certainly possible.
No need to reflect on what could have been after dropping close contests at Miami and Florida State, followed by blowout losses to Wake Forest and Louisville. The Orange was virtually eliminated from postseason play following the Wake Forest game.
Since there was no bowl game to play for, and the only thing to play for was pride, some questioned following the loss to the Eagles, SU’s lack of intensity.
“When you are playing the type of team you are playing, you have to be able to exchange punches with them and what you saw was a boxer and a brawler,” Babers said. “It’s a physical game and when you get hit, you got to hit back. There comes a point where you get tired of doing it.”
Said Erv Phillips: “It felt like it was a physical game as well. But at the end of the day, you have to come out and play. Credit to them, we just didn’t match their intensity.”
A 5-7 record looks much better on paper than 4-8, the third season in a row that the Orange has posted just four wins.
So what is Baber’s priority in the offseason to improve on those four win seasons and get the Orange playing in December?
“My number one word is faith. My number two word is humble. My number three word is meek. This is humbling. It really is, not to be involved with the postseason. But, as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. So, all we’re doing is gaining strength. We’re getting strong roots beneath the ground. It’s going to have to be thick and deep because when this tree starts growing, it’s got to be able to support what we’re doing. That’s what’s going to be going on in the off-season. The foundation that we’re going to be laying here with these young men who are in the program and the new ones who are going to be coming, so we can get the things done that we need to get done.”
And hopefully win some games in November.