Floyd Little returns to Syracuse always makes a nice little nugget for a story, whether it's to attend a game, meet with a team or have a slice of pizza at the Varsity. The fact that he's returned to Syracuse as a permanent fixture in the SU athletics department, to me, stands out at a momentous occasion.
Lets ignore a minute all those football achievements- those are already well publicized and forever enshrined in both the College and NFL Hall's of Fame. Not to mention, I'm sure there's a few posters lurking on this site that actually saw him play that can vouch for his athletic ability.
Floyd Little is by all accounts as classy, highly educated, accomplished and dedicated a person as you will find. Someone you'd be proud to say you know. Unlike today, you didn't turn your back on a 4-year education at a school like Syracuse for fame and fortune in the NFL (hell, with a $10,000 signing bonus it didn't make good financial sense anyway). While he certainly had the ability all along, I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you how important his education was. So much so that he went on to earn a law degree from the University of Denver shortly after retiring from the NFL.
As an alumnus and self claimed "ambassador" of Syracuse University, he's the most prominent and vocal HCDM supporter I can think of. Many of us here would assert that HCDM is Syracuse Football's #1 fan, but if that's true, I'd have to say Floyd Little is fan #1-a. So I suppose it make logical sense to include him as much as possible. And I'm absolutely pumped about him being a fixture in the Syracuse athletic department for the foreseeable future.So anyways, you already knew who he is and I won't insult your intelligence further on that subject. So lets look at the future of Syracuse Football. We all know HCDM is all about restoring tradition, which also includes things like toughness, discipline and kicking ass on the football field. That is what Syracuse Football was during his day, continued from the tradition established by legends like Brown, Davis and Little.
IMO, HCDM was well on his was to re-establishing that tradition himself. Adding Little to SU athletics dept. means having another quality individual to mentor our young student-athletes. The fact that he's an alumnus, former Syracuse player and College/NFL Hall of Famer means his words carry as much weight, if not more in some cases, with the players he chooses interact with than perhaps HCDM himself.
Case in point, after Floyd spoke to the team prior to the 2010 game @ Akron, Syracuse went on to win by the lopsided score of 29-3 (and we let 'em off easy by not taking the easy TD at the end). Of course, the fact that Akron was one of the worst FBS teams in the country in 2010 probably had a lot to do with the outcome as well.
Then again maybe Doug Marrone can handle mentoring and developing players all by himself. I mean, he did just take a band of the sorriest excuses for a FBS football team (who also managed to lose previously to that aforementioned God-awful Akron football program at home) and turn them into a Pinstripe Bowl champion in a mere two seasons. He's got some damn good assistants too. But, consider the attrition that the team has faced due to quitters, suspensions, disciplinary issues, academics and in a few cases, the law. Maybe having an influence from a leader like Floyd Little will help. I'm not saying it definitely would've kept Mike Williams from going to Turning Stone or Malcom Cater from stealing Nassib's TV, but it sure as hell couldn't hurt.
Lets shift focus to the recruiting front. I originally was going to title this post "the next great Syracuse running back" or something to that effect, with Floyd Little being a key component to that. Now I highly doubt Little will be hitting the trail with Marrone and Co, but then again, if he's allowed to do so, I wouldn't be surprised if he popped in for a couple in house visits if he felt it would make a difference. In any case, I've seen Little as a key guy. He's young enough (read - coherent enough) to still make a positive impact with his words, and passionate enough to leave a lasting impression (and those aforementioned football accolades don't hurt a bit).
I've been cautiously optimistic about HCDM's recruiting classes all along, but there is a certain lack of "Star Power" missing. I'm not saying recruiting services have it all right by any means, no sir. It's more of a scientific wild-assed crapshoot than anything else. But we simply haven't gotten those one or two blue chippers on HCDMs radar the last few seasons that instead opted for more prominent football programs. There are some obvious examples out there, but let me focus one area: Running Back.
You can make a strong argument with a straight face, even today, that Syracuse IS running back U.
Looking at our current group of youngsters, I'd say if there was a future star it is Prince Tyson-Gulley. That's still a reach though, as it's far too soon to make any concrete assertions about particular players future (Lord knows I was dead wrong about Averin Collier). In reality, there is not a single guy in the group ready to carry the load for a full season.
Of course, we also have Adonis Ameen-Moore coming in (all the way from Colorado) and Tyree Smallwood. But I'm not ready to judge their ability, y'know, until we see them get to campus.
So, if you were HCDM and wanted to woo that blue-chip prospect to your program, who would you call up as your closer? I'm not sure of the exact number, but I'll bet there's not a whole lot of schools that can boast that they've got an NFL HoF'er walking its halls (certainly not Rutgers or UConn, mwahahaha). In my opinion, even before Floyd was hired by Doc Gross, he was the key guy you want talking to your (potential) incoming players. Moreso than Jim Brown, or even many of the current players in the NFL. He's a living legend at football, but to me he's also achieved the greatest success at life in general (hey, what other former NFL player can say he's in the HOF and ALSO appeared on Family Feud? That's gotta be on any potential recruit's bucket list.)
Now throw in the fact that Little, the last truly great player to wear #44 (and part of the reason why the number is retired today) is in favor of bringing it back...we just gained two potentially huge bargaining chips to the table for the next recruiting season. We know if #44 is to be unretired, it would have to be a mega-player like we've not seen in a long time. I'm not say it is going to happen with any level of certainty, but those odds also increased dramatically in our favor.
All due respect to all of our running backs and incoming freshmen - and I do mean that sincerely. But do you see a #44 in the bunch? Maybe we just don't know yet, but I'll be excited just to see if any one just makes it in the NFL. But I'm gonna bet that there will be another #44 and just haven't gotten him. Maybe one of the special projects tasked to Little by Doc Gross will be dubbed "project 44", specifically for finding that special player deserving of the honor. Who knows...
And speaking of the Good Doctor, who better to trumpet the news of the glorious revival of Syracuse football across all the land than Floyd Little? If he's half as good at that as he is giving HOF entrance speeches, donors will line up and pay huge buckets 'o cash just to hear him talk. Okay, maybe not quite (hey, I'd buy a car from him at the VERY least). But he is an inspiring person to listen to. And he is credited for keeping the Denver Broncos franchise in Denver. Any fan who watched him during his era or is a fan of the Broncos even today knows his level of commitment to team and community, and can thank their lucky stars they didn't pack up and move elsewhere. You don't get the nickname "the Franchise" for nothing, y'know. So I'm glad that he's now shifted that dedication back to Syracuse University, full time. He's the right
man ambassador for the job.
I should add though, Doc Gross and Floyd Little under the same roof? Talk about polar opposite egos! Doc, you might learn a lesson or two from "the Ambassador". Then again, I can see Doc Gross giving Floyd a playful elbow at the ol' water cooler saying "Y'know, I'd have gotten you in the HoF a lot sooner if you let me do the talking for ya."
At any rate, I'm obviously elated by this news. Maybe I'm just a bit overly optimistic, but I think this is the best piece of off-season news we've had since HCDM was hired. Welcome aboard and welcome home, Floyd Little!