Been holidng onto this one for awhile, so bear with me folks while I vent a lil' bit. For the purposes of this rant, I'm going to pretend Nassib is joining me in my frustration*:
*(This is not at all to be confused with a jubilant Nassib, which is nearly identical. Trust me, Ryan is very, very frustrated)
I know I wasn't the only one thinking the move the ACC was a mistake when it was announced. But I’m talking purely about timing. When announced, my first thought was "why now?" Granted, I was not a big fan of the move initially, and I’ve kept mostly too myself about it. But I’ve since warmed to it. This move proves to me that definitively, the SU athletics department is willing to do absolutely everything that is necessary to rebuild SU football. In short – you don’t get invited to the ACC (or Big 10, PAC-12, SEC, etc) if you don’t have a football program that can contribute. And our football program will certainly see the benefits – especially monetarily - when the move does happen. So please don’t take anything I’m about to say as bitterness over a losing season and losing affiliation with the conference I’ve grown to like.
But back to the timing issue. First off, it’s another distraction that we didn’t need. Not to our fledgling football program under HCDM, fresh off its first winning season and bowl win in nearly a decade. I’m not sure how much it affects the players and coaches personally, but it’s bound to influence them in all some way. Whether it’s a net positive move or not, it’s another thing to adjust to. In any case it’s a lot easier to weather storm when you’re not still in rebuilding.
Doug is also not very pleased (via cdn2.sbnation.com)
Second, it puts a target squarely on our back during conference play. Prior to the season, people liked to call out that ‘Syracuse won’t be able to sneak up on anyone like they did last year’. I thought that was a load of BS, but it seems to have proven true. I’m not saying it’s the sole reason we went 1-6 in the Big East this season, but we certainly didn’t need to give anyone in the Big East any extra incentive to beat us. Announcing the move to the ACC absolutely did.
Third, the refs. I hate blaming the refs for the outcome of a game, simply put they’re not perfect and they’re never going to be. As uncreative people like me like to say…"it is what it is". But this year bears a second look. When it was announced we’d go to the ACC, I immediately assumed at best, we wouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt from the refs. At worst they’d deliberately try to screw us. What we do know is that our team was penalized A LOT this year. My assumption is that there is a discipline problem with the team. But it’s not completely outlandish to think that the refs had it in for us as well.
After further review, video evidence confirms that Big East refs are as awful as the football conference they belong to (via cache.gawkerassets.com)
(Another interesting point regarding the refs, the [infamous] Toledo game occurred after SU announced they were going to the ACC. So that definitely doesn’t fit with my theory that the Big East refs may have been out to get us. But then again, it wasn’t a Big East Conference game. So in theory that’s not the type of game you go out of your way to screw us in, because it still benefits the Big East to have us win that game. Going forward after that embarrassment, the Big East refs took it on the chin for the XP call. I could see where the refs would be even less inclined to give us the benefit of the doubt - Especially during conference play.)
Back to my original question of "why now"? I think Syracuse and Pitt had the skids greased to jump to the ACC the moment the next round of conference realignment was initiated, so as to not pull a UConn or Rutgers and get left out in the cold. So the answer to my initial question, all of this, I believe, is due to the move by Texas A&M to jump to the SEC. If A&M decides to stay put, I believe the SU and Pitt (and WVU) stay put in the Big East as well, for the time being (If you can't go with me on this much at least, probably best to quit reading now).
Too many possibilities for this photo for it not to have it's own Caption Contest (via www.nooga.com)
But again, I ask the question of "why now"? This time directed at Texas A&M. From what I could tell, the A&M-to-SEC move was championed, if not initiated, SOLELY by the Aggies. My initial reaction to this was "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOTS!?!?!??" Number 1 reason I would be against it, I think A&M is going to fail in the SEC. But they want to be associated with the SEC for their own reasons, so whatever. Second, why would you initiate this move at the start of the season when they literally had months of nothingness over the summer to sort this stuff out? Nevermind the fact that would have made conference realignment THE story over the summer, while we're already busy making up our own fictitious conferences in our heads (or on paper, in some cases). The Aggies were ranked in the top-10 in both polls to start the season, and were set to have one of the best teams they’ve had in a long time. For all the reasons that (announcing) a move to a new conference would hurt Syracuse’s season – same applies to A&M equally as much if not more. So all I can figure is that Texas A&M wanted into the SEC so bad that they were willing to sabotage their 2011 season to do it. Which is exactly what happened. A&M rode that top-10 ranking down to a 6-6 finish and a date with Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
I think this all goes a long way to help explain the 0-5 collapse at the end of the season, but none of this intended to dismiss the fact that the 2011 SU football team was mediocre at best to begin with BTW. However, never did I believe they were bad enough to go 0-5 to close out the season, and admittedly, I have trouble accepting that now. It's completely uncanny, even for Syracuse, most especially after a 5-2 start which saw us obliterate a top-15 ranked and eventual conference champion WVU team. At the very least, there was legitimate hope that we would sustain our momentum from 2010 into another winning season and bowl appearance. A 0-5 finish was the furthest thing in anyone’s mind that point.
The last great thing Dorian Graham and the SU football team did all season, all in one photo (via media.syracuse.com)
Speaking of WVU, I’m still scratching my head as to how the hell we pulled that off. But, consider that at that point WVU had all but accepted an invite to the Big 12 at that point. Heck, they had been whoring themselves out to the SEC all along and really did a poor job at (read: made no attempt at) keeping that a secret. So I’m willing to believe that the refs were willing to call that game straight – there’s really no incentive to help or hurt either team. Plus, WVU had their own distractions to deal with breaking in Holgy and their aforementioned dalliances with moving to the SEC, they didn’t really have any extra incentive to beat us than they already did to begin with. Granted, executing a perfect gameplan on our part makes it an awful lot easier to win a football game. But the fact that we were able to embarrass WVU at the same level that the #1 team in the country did…I’m not sure I’m able to give us all the credit either.
Anyway, I know we’re looking at all sorts of reasons for the collapse at the end of this season. And I’m perfectly able to see the flaws we have internally as well. But when you consider the opposition over the last month or so, and the fact that injuries were not really an issue (And we had a bye!), I’m not able to see how that adds up to the worst losing streak of the HCDM era.
But enough of my ramblings. What does the nunes nation think?
(Wait, one more thing....for the record, about every other person in my company is a ring knocker. On that note I'd like to personally thank the Longhorns for making my Thanksgiving wishes come true:
Have fun losing in the SEC, Agg-holes.)