For the third game of the 2015 Syracuse football season, my dear wife Karen got to the campus early enough to catch the festivities on the quad flanking the Carrier Dome.
Hover over any gallery photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo in any gallery for an enlarged slide show.
Of course we spied Otto the Orange, prideful furry ball of mascot for all things Syracuse sports. After I took the closest of the above shots with my iPhone 6, he high-mittened me on the way toward the Pride of the Orange marching band.
The band does its thing on the steps of Hendricks Chapel an hour or so before every home football game. It’s a traditional sight and sound for Syracuse football fans.
I took two videos of the Pride of the Orange spectacle. Enjoy the snippets of song and dance.
This Saturday — like the first two before it this year — again was light on attendance as the students, university community, this city and the surrounding region has proved stubborn in shaking off last season’s 3-9 record.
We knew by this outside ease of movement that the inside crowd to see the game against the Central Michigan Chippewas was likely to be less-than-a-throng. No matter. You don’t preach to the choir. These folks were having fun.
A trio of statues on the quad caught my eye. The first was of The Saltine Warrior, which used to be one of the sports teams’ mascots. It was done away with at least a decade ago, when First Nation members began expressing discomfort with U.S. sports teams using Indian names and mascots. In fact, University officials also asked all media to forevermore discard the use of Orangemen as a nickname, sticking to the official Orange.
The original school mascot name also pays homage to Syracuse’s heritage as a salt capital, with mines along the shore of Onondaga Lake.
The music matters in my mind took over when I spotted this one. It made me think of the body of a banjo.
Radio waves, other sports’ stars, shirts on sale … You name it, some folks will think about it.
On the way to the Carrier Dome, one last statue caught my eye.
This one was put up more recently, to honor Syracuse’s only winner of college football’s biggest individual honor, the Heisman Trophy. Ernie Davis was the first African-American to win the award. After he led the Orange to its first and only national championship six decades ago, he graduated and was selected by the Washington Redskins of the NFL — everybody’s dream — he was diagnosed with leukemia and died. Hollywood made a movie about his life in 2008. You may have seen The Express, starring Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid. It’s pretty good, and it premiered in Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre.
I politely asked a guy to move the cup of beer he’d set down on the base of the statue as he stood next to it, looking at his phone to text or email. He continued to stand there. I asked him to move, too, so I could take a photo. He said he would when he was finished. Guy in his 50s. Rude guy to put a beer cup down on Ernie Davis’ statue. I didn’t go into my feelings about this there. I also didn’t take his photo. Now I hope he somehow reads this.
In the first half, Syracuse was moving the ball well, with freshman quarterback Eric Dungey running and throwing crisply.
I had my iPhone 6 zoomed on a play at our end of the field in which Dungey connected on a pass, after which two things occurred. I followed the ball, which found a receiver, who weaved his way into the end zone for a touchdown to put Syracuse up 24-10. But shortly after the shot I snapped above, when one defender hit the quarterback as he released the ball, a second, trailing Chippewas player smacked him helmet-to-helmet, knocking the Syracuse freshman cold. After several moments lying prone, he sat up, stood up, and ran off under his own power. But he did not go back in. Under a cascade of boos from the crowd of, the Central Michigan player was ejected from the game.
Syracuse stalled under the direction of second- and third-string quarterbacks Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney. In fact, the Orange did not pick up a first down in the second half, and Central Michigan rallied to tie the game with a final-second touchdown.
But Mahoney — get this, something called a preferred walk-on who transferred from Du Page College in Illinois this past summer, whose famous alumni include the late, great John Belushi — rallied Syracuse for an overtime TD and a 29-27 win.
Syracuse coach Scott Shafer will only toe the official line and say that Dungey suffered “an upper body injury,” stating that it’s doubtful that he’ll play against undefeated and highly ranked LSU of the SEC Saturday in the biggest early season game in this city for years.
We shall see, among other things, how many fans show up, and if Syracuse is really any good this season.
Which statue do you like best, and why? Would you rest a beer on Ernie Davis’s statue? Which photo do you like best, and why?