Five Burning Questions: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse football is actually relevant again. That’s important for the Big East, and it’s important for college football.

The Orange have a great football tradition, and now that Doug Marrone is running the show you can just sense that Syracuse is going to be a major player again.

Who better to give us a status update on Syracuse football than Sean Keeley from the legendary blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, and also the author of “How To Grow An Orange.” Sean has some great insight as he joins for “Five Burning Questions.”

1. Before we get into the 2011 season, we have to look at last year a little bit. There was a hint of what was to come with an early, but ugly win over South Florida, but then Syracuse got big wins at WVU and at Cincinnati. The back-to-back losses to close the regular season were tough, but then the Orange played one of the more exciting bowl games. Can you put into words how satisfying the 2010 year was for Syracuse fans?

The Greg Robinson Era (2005-2008) was marked with a lot of talk about how great things were going to be and no proof that was true at all. The Doug Marrone Era has so far been marked with little talk and whole lot of on-the-field results. We knew the 2010 season was going to be an improvement, however I’m pretty sure if you polled most Syracuse fans, 6-6 seemed like our ceiling. So when they already had six wins by October, you can imagine how insane we were.

I know it’s hard for young college football fans to wrap their head around this but Syracuse Football is one of 20-best programs in the history of the sport. For a long time, we came to expect 8-9-10 win seasons on a regular basis. So when that was taken away from us, it was awful. Now that we’re back on the upswing with a coach that gets it, we’re moving back towards the place where we expect Syracuse football to be. And that’s the best part.

2. You can’t talk about Syracuse football without talking about Doug Marrone. It just seems he came in and knew exactly what the program needed to get back on track. Tell us what the collective thoughts are from the Orange Nation when they talk about where the program has come from Greg Robinson to Marrone?

After 30+ years, Jim Boeheim has reached God-status in Syracuse. After 3 seasons, Doug Marrone is probably already at Archangel-status, well on his way to a Godship.

Syracuse fans practically fall all over themselves to praise the job Marrone has done. He’s resurrected the program quicker than anyone expected and he’s done it with a no-nonsense way of conducting his team. He has extremely high standards that he asks of his players and the ones who meet them have improved by leaps and bounds during the past couple seasons.

What’s really amazing about Marrone is, coaching Syracuse football was his dream job. It’s literally been his goal ever since he got into coaching. He is the only coach in the world who, if presented with the choice of Ohio State, Texas, Notre Dame, USC, Florida or Syracuse…would choose Syracuse.


In Marrone We Trust.

3. Delone Carter was a special talent and he had a huge 2010. But is this the biggest hole to fill this year, or is there another spot on the field that could end up being the Achilles heal for the Orange?

Honestly, I think folks are making way too big a deal out of what Delone Carter leaves behind. Yes, DC3 was a fantastic talent and an absolute bruiser coming out of the backfield. Syracuse doesn’t have a single player who can emulate him. So its a good thing we have about four that can do all of it.

Antwon Bailey has been the change-of-pace/Wildcat back the last two seasons and now he’ll be expected to carry the load. Most people are saying he’s a question mark but those people seem to forgot Bailey single-handidly put the team on his back as a freshman in our comeback-win over Notre Dame. He’s carried the Orange offense before and he’s only improved as a runner and pass-catcher.

What Bailey lacks, a trio of other runners can make up for. Prince-Tyson Gulley and Steve Rene bring a lot of speed and maneuverability with them. Maanwhile, freshman Adonis-Ameen Moore is an absolute tank and will be hard to take down on 3rd-and-1 and goalline situations.

4. The Orange open with Wake Forest in the Carrier Dome tonight. This is a winnable game, but also one that probably scares SU fans as they are reluctant to believe the turnaround is 100 percent complete. How important is this win to Syracuse, but also to the Big East to get a good win over another BCS Conference team?

Syracuse fans are nothing if not filled with doubt at all times. We hate expectations, especially in football, because we’ve been trained to be disappointed. The Paul Pasqualoni Era was full of Syracuse teams that had huge preseason expectations and promptly crapped the bed out of the gate only to spend the rest of the season playing catch-up (good luck with that, UConn). So we know about high expectations and not fulfilling them.

It would be a huge win for the Orange for a few reasons. No. 1, there are still a lot of doubters out there and a win here would quiet them. No. 2, the Orange played poorly at home last year and need to reverse that trend. No. 3, there are still a lot of folks in the fanbase unwilling to pony up and buy tickets to the Dome, likely because they’re so used to disappointment. Win here and you erase a lot of that.

And of course, anytime a Big East team can beat a team from another BCS conference, that’s a good thing. I’m sure our conference-mates would appreciate it.

5. I heard where ESPN’s Colin Cowherd picked Syracuse to win the Big East this fall. I would imagine this is a good sign for a Syracuse program that had hit rock bottom a couple years back, but do you really want the endorsement of Cowherd?

Ugh. It’s a good sign in theory but nothing good comes from Colin Cowherd speaking positively of you. It’s a jinx if I’ve ever heard one. I’d rather Colin just said West Virginia was going to win the conference and Syracuse was going to go 0-12. Then I’d know for sure the Orange would win the conference this year…