With the clock ticking down towards zero this past Saturday in Tampa, Fla., when the players from both sidelines began to trickle out onto the field—half with joyous smiles and the other half looking sullen—the excitement, for this Syracuse native, was overwhelming.
My heart was racing and the edges of my lips curled up into a massive smile that would have been impossible to contain, even if I’d wanted to. Combined with the thrill of victory, there was a feel of vindication—that all my hopes and talk of bowl games in the preseason had been confirmed. In that moment, I was absolutely sure that the Orange had finally turned the corner.
I’ve come back down to earth a bit, although my optimism for the rest of the season remains higher than it’s been in nearly a decade. Almost immediately after the coach and players gave the obligatory on-the-field interviews and the broadcast ended, my mind was beginning to look forward to the following Saturday and Pittsburgh.
We really need to pack the Dome this week, I thought, considering it to be almost a foregone conclusion that it would end up happening. After all, what better time could there be to jump back on the SU Football bandwagon?
The Orange are 4-1 for the first time since 1999 and after a week of conference play, they’re sitting atop the Big East standings. On top of that, they’ll be gunning for a 2-0 conference record this weekend against one of their oldest rivals, Pittsburgh.
The Panthers have struggled to this point, despite being considered the odds-on favorite to win the Big East in the preseason, and a major win looks like a real possibility.
There’s really no question about it: this upcoming Saturday is the biggest game that the Orange have played since 2004.
With all of this in mind, it’s extremely hard to put into words just how disappointed I am to hear about the lagging ticket sales for this weekend’s game. According to local radio talk-show host, Danny Parkins, the figure as of Wednesday afternoon is just a touch over 35,000—an absolutely embarrassing number for a game of this magnitude, especially when you consider it’s also Homecoming.
And there’s really no blaming the administration for this. They’re clearly going balls-to-the-wall to try to get this game sold out.
Check out SUAthletics.com and you’ll be greeted by a screen sized advertisement promoting discount tickets (only $25) and emphatically informing fans that there’s an “Orange-out,” on Saturday. Hell, there’s even a link in the corner telling you where you can get an Orange shirt for the game.
Head over to Syracuse.com, the web outlet for the Syracuse Post-Standard, and you’ll see another massive ad promoting the game.
They’ve gotten the word out. There are no excuses any more. If the Dome isn’t filled to capacity this weekend, the blame will fall squarely on the fans.
Moreover, the time to come back and show support is right now. I can’t blame people for not showing up during the Greg Robinson years , when the on-the-field product was so horrible; but I’ve always figured the fans were still out there, just waiting for a sign of life.
Well, if you’re out there, the SU football heart beat has finally spiked after half a decade of flat-lining. I’m not promising a win Saturday, but five games into the season, the team has held up their end of the bargain and now it’s time for the fans to again take some responsibility for the well-being of this program.