It's 1980. The Syracuse Orangemen basketball team is dominating the college basketball landscape. They'll finish with a 26-4 (5-1) record. They would make it to the Sweet 16 that year, the final season in Manley Field House.
You might have heard a thing or two about the Georgetown game that year. However, like so many games that year, it was just another on the Orange march to glory. We spent the appropriate amount of time getting amped up for it and spreading hate about our opponent.
There was one game that year, however, that we needed to dedicate an entire week of focused hatred. It wasn't the Georgetown game. It wasn't the Villanova game. It wasn't St. John's or Rutgers, or even Cornell.
The only game on our schedule that season that received an entire week of undivided attention was...Siena.
The thing is, Siena wasn't very good. And we didn't feel at all threatened by the Indians (now the Saints). We had defeated them by the ungodly score of 144-92 the year prior (a school record in points-scored). By all accounts, Siena was one of the weakest teams on our schedule and the Orange shouldn't have cared about them any more than we care about teams like Albany or DePaul today.
That, of course, was the joke. The whole thing was a spoof on the notion of rivalry. A couple of editors at the Daily Orange concocted 'Beat Siena Week' as a kind of farce. Perhaps much to their surprise, it took off. Beat Siena Week featured a campus-wide blitz of tee-shirts, drink specials, pranks, and record sales. The SU Chancellor sported a Beat Siena t-shirt. The Student Government publicly recognized and voiced its support for Beat Siena Week. "Horrible hankies" were handed out to students and fans to wave in the faces of Siena players when they entered the building.
Beat Siena Week culminated how you'd expect. The Orangemen trounced the Indians 99-64 and the Siena players were bummed out by how Syracuse fans "were making a zoo out of the game".
The Siena basketball team has yet to exact its vengeance for that game, we're still 8-0 against them all-time. As for the lacrosse side, it's pretty much the same deal. Syracuse is 1-0 all-time against Siena, beating the Saints 11-4 in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The Orange went on to win the National Title that year (just sayin').
One day, I expect the Saints will get their revenge. But Sunday will not be that day. The Orange are just too good and too determined not to repeat last year's mistake.
Maybe it's not officially Beat Siena Week, but the truth is, Syracuse athletes and fans live every week like it's Beat Siena Week.
(If anyone was a student at SU at that time or has some memories of Beat Siena Week, please share in the comments. )