Orange Watch: Rare losing for Big 3 programs of Syracuse athletics

Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: Going back to 1916, the first year of the Syracuse lacrosse program (Syracuse football started in 1889 and SU basketball in 1900), there has never been an academic year in which all three programs finished their respective seasons with losing records, that is until the 2021-22 calendar unfolded. It’s an eye-opening statement spotlighting both the longtime consistency of victorious Orange teams competing on the field/court, and the need to acquire the philosophy that there’s no room to go but up beginning in 2022-23.

Sunday’s lacrosse finale in which Syracuse lost to Notre Dame and finished with a 4-10 record, the third fewest total of wins in any lax season, cemented what was already known. This year would be a first-ever occurrence for SU athletics.

It’s simply hard to believe that neither by chance or coincidence under a total of 28 different coaches (17 in football, six in basketball, five in lacrosse) that the programs never before shared losing seasons, although several times the trifecta just missed by a year or two.

The other element that stands out here is success. Over time, these three programs have won a lot of games on route to each winning national championships, and setting the bar pretty high on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, football’s fade from the national spotlight this century has tempered the enthusiasm that Orange Nation expects to be made up by winning hoops and lax. If those teams don’t make deep runs in their respective NCAA Tournaments, all is lost, although let’s see what Dino Babers has up his sleeve entering his seventh season with just one winning campaign.

» Related: Syracuse lacrosse closes disastrous season with loss against Notre Dame

Here is a recap of what transpired in this year to forget for the ‘Cuse football, basketball, and lacrosse teams:

Sport Fast Start Lousy Finish Historical Context
Football Beat Ohio University on the road 29-9 with a strong second half.  Sean Tucker ran for 181 yards and a TD. A November not to remember.  Going 0-3 in the month ended any hopes of a bowl game, finishing 5-7. Since 2000, 14 of the 22 seasons have ended with a losing record.  From 1980-2000, there were only four.
Basketball Defeated Lafayette 97-63 in the Dome.  Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim each scored 18 points, Joe Girard had 20.  Lost final four regular season games.  That offset impressive 1-1 run in ACC Tournament, finishing 16-17. Only the 13th losing season since 1916.  The first sub .500 season in 46 years under Jim Boeheim.
Lacrosse Blitzed Holy Cross 28-5 in the Dome.  Tucker Dordevic, Owen Seebold, and Brendon Curry combined for 14 goals. Ended with a six-game losing streak.  The L’s bookended by resounding Notre Dame defeats, finishing 4-10. Only the 11th losing season in the 107-year history of the program.  One longer losing streak – seven in 1966.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.