Mount Rushmore is one of those monuments that gets waaaaay more credit than it deserves. I mean, nothing very American ever happened there and the only reason it was created was to attract more tourists to South Dakota. It's like the nature version of a Vegas casino.
But, much like how "gate" is now the go-to addition to any controversy, Mt. Rushmore has cemented itself as the go-to standard when we measure greatness in any aspect...even though you wouldn't say that all four of the folks up there are necessarily our four greatest Presidents (swap one Roosevelt out for another, perhaps). But now, when you want to figure out who are the greatest and most significant people associated with something, you ask "Who are the Mount Rushmore of Fill In The Blank."
And since ESPN has taken it upon themselves to do that for each state, it seems as though there is no better time than to figure out...
Who are the Mount Rushmore of Syracuse?
I think we can all agree that three of those slots are non-negotiable. Jim Boehiem, Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. I don't really need to go into detail defending the face of Syracuse basketball, the greatest college athlete of all-time and the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner. They're in.
As for the fourth spot? Hmmm...now it gets tricky. So many variables to consider, so many options. Let's run them down, shall we?
Wilmeth Sidat-Singh - If they ever make another movie about a Syracuse athlete, Singh will probably be it's subject. You think Ernie Davis had it rough? How bout being an African-American star athlete in the 30's? Now imagine being an African-American star athlete in the 30's who was being passed off as Hindu? And then you had to miss games because local reporters wrote scathing articles about you? Yeah America!
Singh was SU football's first real star player, he also played basketball and he even went on to play professional basketball before joining the army and the historically-important Tuskegee Airmen. SU retired his number in 2005.
Ben Schwartzwalder - When SU and West Virginia play each other in football, they play for the trophy that bears his name. Schwartzy oversaw the "golden age" of Syracuse football from 1949 to 1973. He recruited and coached Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance, Floyd Little and Larry Csonka just to name a few. And his 1959 team won Syracuse's lone national title. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
Roy Simmons, Jr. - If Roy Simmons Sr. is the Godfather of Syracuse Lacrosse, Roy Simmon's Jr. is it's Daddy. He took over the Orange lacrosse program in 1971 and retired 26 years later with a record of 290-96 (.751). During that time the Orange had 19 NCAA playoff appearances, 16 straight Final Fours, and NCAA national championships in 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, and 1995. He is a member of quite a few Hall of Fame and responsible for turning Syracuse into the preeminant college lacrosse program in the nation.
Dave Bing - As OrangeHoops puts it, "Dave Bing, the greatest player in Syracuse history, could do it all on and off the court. He led the Orangemen in scoring all three years, and was the all-time leading scorer until Sherman Douglas came along two decades later. Bing was a prolific scorer with a sweet shooting touch, but also a fantastic passer (if assists were official statistics throughout his career he would have racked up quite a few), and a phenomenal rebounder. As one NBA scout said, Bing may not have been the best at anything, but nobody was able to do as much as him."
Gary Gait - The Michael Jordan of lacrosse. He did things no one had ever done before while playing for the Orange, not least of which was the Air Gait. While there, the Orange went to four Final Fours and won three National Championships. He left as the team's all-time leading scorer (since eclipsed) and named National Player of the Year twice.
If that's all Gait did, he would be up for serious consideration. But factor in his success as coach of the Women's Lacrosse team, whom he led to the Final Four in his first season and his resume just keeps going. Also, he is responsible for the greatest PSA ever made.
Derrick Coleman - He is #2 all-time in Syracuse history in scoring. He is #1 all-time in rebounding, in spite of the fact that he played alongside Rony Seikely and Billy Owens. He was a part of the 1987 team that went to the Finals, named Big East Player of the Year his senior year and All-Big East First Team three times.
Donovan McNabb - The most notable player of Syracuse football's "modern era." Donovan's teams didn't win national titles but they did win three Big East crowns and play in two "BCS" bowls. He was named Big East Offensive POY three times and Big East's Offensive Player of the Decade. Also named to Syracuse All-Century Football team.
But it was Donovan's charisma and his ability to create on the field that made him so memorable. Every Syracuse fan from the late 90's has a favorite Donovan story. Syracuse has yet to find a worthy successor to him at the position.
Carmelo Anthony - Anthony did more in one season at Syracuse than most players do in four. While certainly not the only reason, he is credited with leading the Orange to their 2003 National Title. He is the one-and-done player by which all one-and-done players will be measured.
If that was the whole story with Carmelo, I wouldn't have put him on the list. But it's what Carmelo has done since leaving that warrants consideration. His name will be on the new practice facility that he donated funds to build and he continues to return to the University to give back. It's only a matter of time before his jersey is retired and as the years pass his legend will only grow. A vote for Carmelo would be a vote for what-will-be.
DOCTOR Daryl Gross - Kidding. He WISHES.
I'm sure there are other athletes, coaches and maybe even an AD or two whom you could make a case but at least to me this is the appropriate list. At first glance, I'm thinking it's Simmons, but then I wonder if it should be another coach. And shouldn't there be a basketball player up there since we have two football players?
But it's not my decision. It's our decision. Okay, it's not really anyone's decision because this is all a silly exercise but, well, cast a vote and let's see who sticks.
(H/T: Brian G)