Item: Hats off to the SU athletic department for a job well done last Saturday surrounding the final spring tune-up heading into Dino Babers’ fourth season.
Winning takes care of everything, and as a result interest in Syracuse football is at its peak this century with record-breaking ticket sales and the accompanying buzz that has surrounded the rebuild of a program that is aiming for annually securing a permanent spot in the weekly polls and playing for major bowl game appearances.
How else to explain the parking lots filled to capacity on the Dome’s west side in the hours leading up to last weekend’s event? There were plenty of good vibes and high fives all around, including the semi-retired Dome Ranger himself socializing among the tailgating crowd.
Most impressive to the day’s presentation was the effort of associate athletic director for business development Anthony Di Fino. Working under John Wildhack and with Syracuse media executive Ed Levine, they secured the appearance of the 1966 Syracuse backfield of Larry Csonka, Floyd Little and Tom Coughlin, two Pro Football Hall of Fame members in Csonka and Little, joined by a future member in Coughlin, with four Super Bowl titles among them.
The line to meet the unparalleled trio under a tent outside the Dome was several hundred and growing by the second leading up to the game.
In the end, everyone who came out on a beautiful day received a preview of the 2019 Orange, and while there is plenty of talent among the starting units, Babers knows the rebuilding process is constant.
“We’re still not there,” Babers said following the spring event when asked about building the roster through four recruiting cycles.
“We need to have the depth that teams we have to challenge for conference championships have. We can put out 21, 22, 24, 25 really good football players, but if we get hit in the wrong position we’re no different than the 2016 or 2017 (4-8) teams. We’ve got some young talented guys, now we’ve just got to make them bigger and stronger.”