The term the game of baseball uses to describe the highest level of competition.
In college football, we find teams belonging to an ethereal association known as the FBS. Division I-A was previously used to describe the same schools. The FBS, or Football Bowl Subdivision, is the home of a large number of teams familiar to the national viewing audience.
Among the list of FBS heavyweights we find are Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Southern California, etc.
For many years, the schools were referred to as the "major college football" teams. Included in such a group we find the pride of New York State, the Syracuse Orange.
In the past four seasons, Syracuse has won 10 games and lost 37.
Why? How did this happen?
From 1995 through '99, the Orange won 42 and lost 19. During the 1985-89 era, Syracuse won 41 and lost 17.
An anomaly? Hardly.
From 1965 through '69, the record was 34 wins and 19 losses, while during 1955 through 1959 the Orange won 36, lost 10, and won the National Championship in 1959.
Syracuse alums include Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis, Jim Brown, John Mackey, Art Monk, Donovan McNabb, Marvin Harrison, and the renowned Larry Csonka.
The demise of Syracuse can be linked to a variety of issues, such as the hiring of Greg Robinson as head coach, some recruiting problems, the failed effort to join the ACC earlier this decade, and the removal of various rivals from the schedule.
First-year Orange head coach Doug Marrone is committed to turning around the program, and he has announced his starting QB for the upcoming season.
Syracuse's fortunes will be turned over to a former local high school hero, Greg Paulus—the Greg Paulus who has been the point guard on the Duke basketball team for the past four seasons.
Paulus needs no introduction to sports fans, as many have followed his career for years and have their own opinions of the former "coach on the court" for United States Olympic mentor Mike Krzyzewski.
How is he able to play football for Syracuse after "being the face" of Duke basketball for the last four years?
Paulus took advantage of current NCAA rules to move back home to Syracuse, transfer to the University's Newhouse School of Public Communications as a graduate student, and literally "go out for the team."
The Orange have not stopped there.
Syracuse officials also announced today they will host three games over the next seven years in the new NFL stadium of the Jets and Giants in New Jersey.
The $1.6 billion stadium will find Syracuse hosting Southern California in 2012 and Notre Dame in 2014 and 2016. It will seat 82,500 and open in 2010.
With 13 starters returning, the addition of a star basketball player at quarterback, and a first-year head coach, the Orange may be the most interesting team to hit the field this season.
Good luck coach Marrone, good luck Greg, and good luck in returning the Orange to the position of power they once held.