When you see an article like Brett McMurphy's Fanhouse piece on NCAA Football spending and the first thing you notice is that your program is doing only slightly better than Duke, well, you know you're in for a bumpy ride.
The article breaks down the have's from the have-not's and see how much of it has to do with spending. Teams like Ohio State have been successful over the past five years but then again they should be, they've spent more money than anyone else in the country in order to do so. Compare that to West Virginia, whom we must begrudgingly admit has won a lot of games while spending a lot less money.
Of course, you want to know how Syracuse ranks in all of this. Well, let me clarify. You know Syracuse must look terrible in rankings such as these, and you don't want to look, but you just have to.
Well, here's it comes...
Of the 66 schools in the automatic qualifying BCS conferences – the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC plus Notre Dame – only six teams had a losing record over the past five seasons when playing schools that spent less money on their football programs.
The Not-So-Super Six are: Duke (4-16 record against schools that spent less money, .200 winning percentage); Syracuse (10-35, .222); Washington (13-33, .282); North Carolina (7-12, .386); Iowa State (13-19, .426) and N.C. State (4-5, .444).
And that's before we get into the spending breakdowns. Despite easily being the worst team in the conference since 2005, we're also the 2nd-biggest spenders in the conference over that same time period. Only Rutgers spent more than us and look at what that got them...a shiny Texas Bowl trophy. Let the record show that Cincinnati, the league's two-time defending champion, spent the 7th most in the league and half of what Rutgers paid.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the Big East's budgets is that Syracuse ranks second. Despite the league's second-biggest budget, Syracuse has won exactly four league games in five years. Big East's best bang for the buck: Cincinnati. Most financially irresponsible: Syracuse.
And of course, that shows why spending isn't the whole story. Not by a longshot. Just because you spend money that doesn't automatically equal wins. Just ask the Mets. You don't need any kind of critical analysis to know that.
Spending helps but having the right personnel and making smart decisions are a huge part of the equation as well. I think it's fair to say Syracuse is still emerging from a period in which it had neither of those things.
The flip side to this analysis could also be interpreted very different if applied to the future. Cincinnati emerged from an era of little spending with its best performance in school history. If they were smart, they'd be pumping money into the program post haste to ensure this contines. My guess is that they aren't. Meanwhile a lot of Rutgers and Syracuse's spending has been with an eye on the future...stadium upgrades, facilities, etc. You could make the case both schools are paying now for results later. Or at least for the assumption of results later.
Of course, in Syracuse's case, the graph that illustrates how each school performed against other schools that spent less money makes for a stark picture. Syracuse obviously finished last in the conference with a percentage of .222. The next closest school? Pitt with a percentage of .580. Depressing. But also...in the past.