Syracuse Basketball: A Few Bad Oranges Does Not Spoil the Whole Bunch
News broke today that once again, Syracuse's Brazilian Sensation Fab Melo would be ruled ineligible, this time missing the NCAA Tournament. While this could be a crippling blow for Syracuse, there is a larger issue at hand.
This recent suspension and the subsequent world-wide Twitter trend are starting to bring into question the integrity of Syracuse Orange basketball. From the beginning of the season, fans have seen the Orange in the national media more for the wrong reasons than right.
First there was the Bernie Fine scandal, which shook Orange Nation to its core, as Syracuse became universally lumped with Penn State and their sexual abuse cover-up with Jerry Sandusky.
Next, Fab Melo found himself ineligible after an academic issue arose and the Orange dropped their first game of the year.
Furthermore, the Orange faithful were blindsided by the news that fan favorite Mookie Jones had left the team for personal reasons.
Sandwiched in-between that and the recent Fab Melo news was the Yahoo! Sports report that claimed the Orange repeatedly violated their own drug policy.
However, looking at the landscape after the dust has settled, things are not as they appear at face value.
So far, the Bernie Fine scandal has yet to result in anything but a defamation suit against Jim Boeheim as a result of his comments after the news initially broke.
The loss of Fab Melo and Mookie Jones may not be great, but in the end the Orange have depth on their team and with everyone else healthy and eligible, Syracuse won without Fab and can still make a run.
There are still several conflicting reports to as what exactly is happening with Fab, the team is confidently moving on without him.
Overall, how would you grade the Syracuse Basketball Program?
Finally, while the drug violations may look like a nail in the coffin of public opinion, these should not distract the Orange, and it is unlikely that the NCAA will severely punish Syracuse, if at all.
Looking at all of this, one would think that the Syracuse program is one of the "troubled" or "bad" programs in the country.
The reality is that it is not.
Syracuse has been scrutinized ever since the Bernie Fine scandal broke, which to this day has not yet even yielded an arrest of the former Syracuse coach.
The drug violations are old news that were previously self-reported to the NCAA and is an ongoing investigation. Players are ruled ineligible all of the time, and recent news surrounding Fab's future plans show he may not be all that focused on school.
A few bad Orange personnel and players have made the program look far worse than it actually is. It is the nature of the media to turn towards scandals (something that Syracuse faculty at Newhouse have drilled into communication majors), and thus the good of the program is often overlooked.
The program has been a model of consistency led by a coach who stands and values loyalty above all else. It is a program that has molded young men into legends on the court and off it, and sometimes both, as was in the case of Detroit mayor Dave Bing.
So the next time you hear Doug Gotlieb or anyone else criticizing Syracuse's program, step back for a moment and look at the entirety of the Orange program. Nothing is perfect, but that does not mean it is ruined either.
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