The last time Syracuse football defeated Notre Dame, Jake Flaherty was in an Orange uniform. SU is looking to end a 14-year winless drought against the Fighting Irish, and Flaherty will once again be on the field.
Of course, this time will be a bit different. Back in 2008, Flaherty was Syracuse’s defensive captain, and played a key role in the Orange’s improbable 24-23 win over the Irish. On Saturday, Flaherty will be singing the National Anthem prior to the game, a throw back to his early post-Syracuse playing days, when he was a professional musician for Audio Revival, an award winning indie rock band. We chatted with Flaherty about his memories of Syracuse’s upset of Notre Dame, the waning days of the Greg Robinson era, his thoughts on SU’s loss to Clemson, and his overall thoughts on this year’s team in this week’s The Juice on the Cuse Podcast, presented by SNY.tv.
If you remember back to that November week in 2008, Syracuse had just announced Robinson wouldn’t be retained for the following season, ending what was a tough period of Syracuse football. But while Robinson was certainly disappointed by losing his job, he kept it lighthearted with his team in practice. As Flaherty recalls, “a running back from our scout team broke through the line, and Greg actually ran up actually lowered his shoulder, and put his shoulder right into the chest of the running back. He was obviously doing it playfully, but everyone got a kick out of it. He was just trying to indicate to us […] that this is still a game that you’re really supposed to have fun.” It gave the team the mindset they needed to focus on pulling off the upset.
As for the game itself, Flaherty, who played at SU from 2004 to 2008, ended up making a key pass breakup against future (and current) NFL tight end Kyle Rudolph. In hindsight, Flaherty says he could’ve been flagged for pass interference, but “it’s not a penalty if they don’t call it,” he says with a smile. He finished with four tackles (two TFLs) in what was ultimately the signature win of the Robinson years.
Fast forward 14 years, and Flaherty continues to keep a close eye on the Orange while working for tech startup Terzo Cloud founded by former Syracuse athletes. His father, Todd, also played at SU, lettering in 1969, and suggested to the SU athletics administration that Flaherty sing the anthem given he was a member of the last team to defeat the Irish. The Orange and ND have played four more times since 2008, and the Irish have won all four of those games. But Flaherty expects Syracuse to improve to 7-1 after the SU defeats Notre Dame on Saturday.
“I think we’re going to see an incredible football game. I do think the Orange will prevail by a couple of scores, but I think we’re going to see a really good game.”
You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Juice on the Cuse Podcast,” a Syracuse Orange podcast, by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.