This idea seemed somewhat more clever at 3:00 this morning... oh well something to do over lunch break.
I was at the previous meeting of Syracuse and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem in 2006. Indeed, as part of the Orange Diaspora trapped in North Carolina, and being constantly inundated with reports of the glory of the ACC, how could I not attend and support my side? In addition, as many fans undoubtedly were, I was looking forward to moving past the the previous year's 1 - 10 season and beginning G-Rob's second year as coach on a positive note as he restored the program to the greater glory that had been promised. Unfortunately things didn't quite work out that way and Micah Andrews put up a 142-yard rushing effort to lead Wake to a 20-10 victory. While we did succeed in knocking the Wake Forest QB phenom out of the game with a broken arm, little did we know that their backup would prove to be even more effective. The ensuing spiral of fortunes for the team needs no repeating here.
Now another meeting with the Demon Deacons looms. Five years later on and much has changed for both squads in the interim. As we as Orange fans hope for a different outcome this time, I'm reminded of where I've seen a similar situation once before. As I am wont to do, I find it most effective to describe my feelings by resorting to drawing often tenuous parallels to similar situations in Hollywood films.
So you remember that scene from the movie Braveheart, right? It was right after William Wallace returned to his town all grown up and there was a wedding celebration underway. Suddenly the joyous occasion is interrupted by the English Lord Bottoms who shows up with a cadre of soldiers and claims his right of prima noctes. The husband understandably takes exception to this and is at the point of being skewered by several of the soldiers when, in a beautiful display of courage and self-sacrifice, the bride intervenes. She whispers something calming* to her new husband and allows herself to be led away unresisting to whatever horrors awaited her in the nobleman's bed. Flash forward to the subsequent events of the beginning of the revolution and the liberation of the town. The nobleman's fortress has been overrun and his garrison defeated by the townspeople. After the fighting has ended, the man whose wife was previously taken claims his "right of a husband" and kills the nobleman.
Without commenting on the worth of the film itself or its historical accuracy, the events of these two particular events in the film mirror the course of events that leads us to Thursday's game. In both scenes, Lord Bottoms represents Wake Forest, the husband represents we the Syracuse fanbase, and the wife represents our hopes and aspirations for the team's success. In the early scene, we the husband are filled with hope for the future. Although we have been and continue to live under oppression, our feeling for our bride remains undiminished and we are celebrating a new beginning with her, only to have our celebratory mood cut short and marred by the actions of our oppressor. Similarly, the outset of Greg Robinson's second season as coach was a time of guarded optimism, in spite of the result of the previous season (indeed, after going 0-2 that year, the team would go on to win 3 in a row before imploding). Being soundly defeated by Wake Forest put an end to some of the optimism and positive emotion around the start of the season. The events of the film did not change the feelings of the husband for his bride (if anything her act of courage deepened his love and resolve in spite of her humiliation), and so have our feelings as fans for the team and the program as a whole not been fundamentally affected by events of the past, but our hunger to see them redressed has also not faded over time.
Now we find ourselves at the gates of the fortress. Recent events against the personification of our past subjugation have given us renewed hope (the killing of the Magistrate in the film as compared to the winning of the Pinstripe Bowl) and now we are face-to-face with those who have wronged us. The Scotts were able to succeed by combining courage, determination, and through the tactical guidance of William Wallace, allowing the husband to take vengeance for his dishonored bride. We as Syracuse fans have something better. Our William Wallace is obviously Doug Marrone. As Wallace was able to take the raw emotion and desire to fight of the villagers and allow them to overrun the better-armed and more highly regarded English garrison, so do we trust in Marrone and his staff to train and motivate the players to allow us as fans to vicariously mete out vengeance on those who have wronged us in the past.
The defeat of the garrison in the film is part of the spark that leads to the larger revolution and the eventual throwing off the yoke of past oppression. While we don't yet know what a victory on Thursday would mean in the larger scope of the program's continued success, a victory would certainly provide some measure of satisfaction and close yet another chapter in a time that we as Orange fans would prefer to put behind us.
Stay tuned next week when I use the film Backdraft as a weak analogy for Game 2 vs Rhode Island**
* Being a Mel Gibson film, it was probably something about being strong in the face of world-wide Zionism.
** No such article likely to be written