West Virginia Football: Syracuse, Once a Proud Program, Needs the Pride Again
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As a fan and especially as a Bleacher Report featured columnist, I don't have any hated, bitter rivals. This includes Syracuse, a team which I'd like to see going back to the days of winning year after year.
Believe me, folks, after weeks and years playing the likes of Coastal Carolina, Marshall at its worst, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, West Virginia needs victories the students can be proud of.
Since WVU has built a tradition of scheduling non-cons only a cheerleader could love, the Mountaineers can only hope for a return of the Big East schools to top-30 land. This is more accurately called by statisticians as the top quartile. Top quartile is top shelf.
Playing in this rarefied zone excites the fan base, entices recruits, and opens the checkbooks of wealthy boosters. West Virginia is headed there, Pittsburgh has taken the bumpy path to get there, Cincinnati has been there and is trying with all its might to stay there, and Syracuse? They're on their way.
Before I discuss Orange pride, it is important I establish the fact that "'Cuse" is a stupid moniker that a) doesn't make any sense and b) makes the people who use it seem a whole lot less hip than they think they are. Don't use it. Syracuse Orange, and also West Virginia Mountaineers, are time-honored names that don't make those who use the names sound like a clown.
Orange fans have been recently subjected to essentially eight years of poor results. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni led Syracuse to a couple of Top Twelve finishes in the early '90s. His last top-20 finish was a 14th ranking in 2001 as a result of a 10-3 record.
Since then, Pasqualoni racked up a couple of 6-6 marks before he left the snowy version of Orange country. Greg Robinson took his place just as Syracuse began spinning out of control. Starting in 2005, Robinson amassed records of 1-10, 4-8, 2-10 and 3-9.
It is important the school got a head coach in Doug Marrone. Marrone played for the Orange and coached as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. He turned the wheel immediately in 2009, getting Syracuse to stop whining and think about winning.
In 2010, the Orange have a 4-2 record. They conquered lowly Akron on the road, registered commanding yet unimpressive wins over FCS schools Maine and Colgate, and are headed in the right direction with a win over Big East rival South Florida down in Tampa.
The two losses are big, in Seattle against Washington of the Pac-10, and against Pittsburgh in the Carrier Dome.
West Virginia is Syracuse's third league game of the seven each conference team plays. The Orange's season ends in excitement as Boston College enters the Dome. That's enough for me to buy an orange three-piece suit and post the photos on Facebook.
What's going to happen Saturday?
a) The game will be tighter than the South Florida game, and that game was tighter than most fans thought it was.
b) Coaching will keep the Orange close, but West Virginia's defensive talent has the best chance to prevail.
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