I always look forward to that first dash out of the tunnel for the Syracuse Orange football players.
The first kneel in the corner is pretty cool, too.
This being the second season under Coach Dino Babers, I had some hopes that last year’s two-win season would be solidly in the rear view.
Indeed, that opener against Central Connecticut State ended in a 51-7 win.
For week two, we had two old coaches to deal with as well as the foes from Middle Tennessee State.
Former Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson passed away in August. He was the wonderful man who led the team to its last undefeated record, 11-0-1 in the 1987 season. I happened to be the recently elevated sports editor of the big daily back then. Mac and I had the sort of uneasy truce that goes with the turf from the days I wrote columns as an assistant sports editor. We still saw each other here and there and respected each other lots. Good man he was.
Former Syracuse coach Scott Shafer now is the defensive coordinator for Middle Tennessee State. He was the man let go after a frustrating, bowl-less season that made way for Baber’s regime.
Alas, Shafer’s defense gave fits to Syracuse QB Eric Dungey and his unsure-handed receivers, and MTSU won 30-23. It’s going to be tough for the Orange to get to bowl eligibility this year. Sigh.\
Thankfully, week three came bright and sunny on the SU quad. I noticed the Pride of the Orange marching band had taken a spot on the steps of the library instead of Hendricks Chapel, where they’d perched to play in seasons previous.
Inside, hopes were high and promotions were in gear.
The crowd was still sparse for opening kickoff, though. Syracuse University officials announced the crowd at 33,004, the biggest of the season. I’m not buying the number.
With Eric Dungey calling the shots at quarterback with his arms, legs and head, Syracuse overcame early mistakes to overwhelm Central Michigan 41-17. My hopes certainly are higher than week two. Am I bowl-focused? Not quite yet.