Over the next five years, they are the highest-profile football programs on Syracuse's schedule. They're also three of the most storied programs in the history of the sport. They bring with them prestige, huge fanbases and national interest. However none of them will bring any of that to the Carrier Dome.
The Trojans, Lions and Irish will play Syracuse in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively. Syracuse will play at USC in 2011 and at Notre Dame in 2015 and 2017. However they will not host either of those teams at any point over the course of the decade, the same for Penn State. Instead, Syracuse will travel to the New Meadowlands for neutral site games, forgoing homefield advantage for the chance to play in the shadow of New York City.
It all begs the question, especially if you're a Dome season-ticket holder...will Syracuse ever host a top non-conference opponent in the Dome again? Say what you will of national exposure, alumni bases and NYC awareness...is SU sacrificing it's true home fans for the sake of some extra PR?
Not to go all "back in my day" on you, but, back in my day, the Dome played host to some of the top programs in the country. Tennessee, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas all played on our turf and many of those games are among the most memorable of that time. The Tennessee game in particular was one of the best SU football crowds I ever had the honor of being a part of. I have to wonder, if it was 2010 and not 1997, would the epic game have taken place in East Rutherford instead? Seems like it. What a shame that would have been.
A lot of folks have looked at the 2010 Home schedule and scoffed at the idea of owning season tickets. Or at least wondered where the value is. Sure, the Big East rivals will come calling as usual. But once you get outside the conference...where are all the great games? This season might be an anomaly with two FCS opponents, but its not like the upcoming schedules provide much more excitement. Especially when the best "home" games are being played in the next state over.
The 2011 schedule features home games against Wake Forest, Toledo and Rhode Island so far. To be fair Syracuse should be scheduling soft for the next 1-2 years, but it's around this time that SU fans and season ticket holders will be getting antsy.
2012 has Northwestern so far, a non-conference opponent SU fans are already kinda bored of. The previously-scheduled home game against USC...which would have sold out the Dome and provided one of the best gameday atmospheres in years, will now be played in New Jersey.
SU and Boston College re-boot their rivalry soon and that's good news. Chances are those games will be played in the Dome. Then again...maybe not. Yankee Stadium beckons as another possible spot for games. And it's probably not too long before CitiField, Gillette Stadium and every one stadium in the Northeast starts clamoring for more college football.
Even Army, a home game Syracuse fans could take or leave, won't even happen in the Dome if it happens at all. It will almost certainly be a Yankee Stadium game.
So what does that leave Syracuse fans? MAC opponents, FCS opponents and the occasional BCS program that's decent but not good enough for us to want to schedule a game with them in another city. I don't envy the job of the Carrier Dome season ticket salesfolks...
All of that said...I get it. I get why we're doing this. I understand the business of college sports and the financial gain of scheduling these games. But I can also see the cost and I'm not so sure Syracuse is looking closely enough at that. The Carrier Dome, when packed, is among the best homefield advantages in the nation. But what good is that when the Orange are playing the teams they need it against most in a city 500 miles away?
Syracuse fans are officially looking at upcoming schedule news with a wary eye. We want to see quality teams slowly but surely making their way back on. But if we never get to see any of those teams in Syracuse, NY...what fun is that? Maybe we'll put that Viriginia Tech series back on the schedule, but SU fans now expect that "home" game to be played in Jersey. And maybe we'll get Michigan back on the schedule soon...at Soldier Field. And how bout a home and "home" with Florida...in Washington, D.C.?
Sounds crazy, but the way things are going... But hey, we'll get to see Rhode Island up close and personal. So that's nice.