Syracuse Football & The Infinite Test Of Patience

Rich Schultz - Getty Images

The 2012 Syracuse football season is the latest in a long line of seasons that test the patience of Orange fans. While this one understands the calls for changes, he's not out of hope just yet.

"Patience is the greatest of all virtues." - Cato the Elder

"Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice." - George Jackson

I am a football guy. That's not the best kind of guy to be as a Syracuse Orange fan. Syracuse Orange fans do best as basketball guys and girls. They say "well, at least basketball season starts soon" and they mean it. It's easy for them to set aside Syracuse football as a sideshow, something that doesn't matter. Because Syracuse is a basketball school and so long as we're winning basketball games, everything else is gravy (or gristle).

And there's more of you than there are of me. It's no surprise that site traffic spikes between January and March and then drops like a rock soon after. Syracuse basketball is king.

Not for me, though. I love football first and foremost. And I want to root for a winning football team. I got somewhat lucky in that I first became a Syracuse fan in 1996. I got to see 8-win, 9-win and 10-win seasons all within my first six years as a fan. As such, my expectations were set. And since then, my expectations have not been met.

So I get it. While I might still be holding out hope for Doug Marrone...I get it. I get why some people are done. It's not just because of Doug Marrone but also because of Greg Robinson and even Coach P. It's because, assuming this season plays out as it's going, this will be the 7th time in eight years that we've finished with a losing record and the 11th time in 12 seasons we failed to win more games than we lost.

This morning I was listening to the local radio hosts talk about the Seattle Seahawks. I've listened to a lot of Seahawks talk all year long, way more than I ever expected to in my life. I listened to Seahawks fans rave about Matt Flynn, talk about how Matt Flynn is the guy over Russell Wilson, slowly talk themselves into Russell Wilson, question whether or not they want Wilson or Flynn and, currently, be fine with Wilson.

Of course, if Russell Wilson has a four-interception stinker next game, the "Flynnatics" will come back out of the woodwork and call for a replacement. And on and on it will go until one of them is gone, replaced by the next quarterback and the whole process will start over again.

Until then, the radio hosts were left to talk about what's going on in San Francisco. Two weeks ago, Alex Smith played the best game he's ever played for the team. This past weekend he stunk up the joint. And so, a lot of people are calling for Smith's backup, Colin Kaepernick. Less than a season after Smith led the Niners to the NFC Championship and signed a new contract, everyone wants to get rid of him after six games.

It made me think not of Doug Marrone but Ryan Nassib. In the first two games of the season, Ryan Nassib was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. IN THE NATION. He was putting up the best numbers any Syracuse QB has put up in decades and he was doing it against Top 25 teams (Northwestern, USC).

Since then, his numbers have declined and issues and mental mistakes have plagued him and the team. Certainly, no one is going to argue that Nassib has regressed as the season as gone along.

And so, four games removed from one of the best two-game stretches in Syracuse QB history, the call for Nassib to be benched is as loud as its ever been.

Is it right? Probably not. There's a reason Charley Loeb has never honestly challenged Nassib for playing time and there's reason every other quarterback on the roster might as well be in street clothes this year. Nassib is surely the best guy on the roster. As bad as he might play, it's almost certainly true.

What does it all mean and what does it have to do with Doug Marrone? Patience, or lack thereof. We've run out of it and, unfortunately, it's an understandable thing. I get why people want to bench Nassib. I get why people want to fire Marrone. I get why everyone thinks they could return punts better than Steve Rene.

We've seen a lot and we've seen enough.

Still, in spite of how you might choose to remember things, this is not Greg Robinson Redux. As one person pointed out on Twitter, this just feels worse because we know this team can actually compete. This team SHOULD be 4-2 or 5-1. Honestly. They should have won the Northwestern game and they most certainly could have won the Minnesota and Rutgers games. When Greg Robinson's teams were 2-4, they were an honest 2-4.

The comparison doesn't make me feel better. I'd rather be the team that should be 4-2, but that makes me feel worse about being 2-4 than I did during Gregger's reign of terror.

If things carry on as-is, we'll finish this season 4-8. That would have been below my expectations before the season started, which was before I realized how talented this team is. So that 4-8 finish would be even more disappointing now than it would have felt if you told me it would happen back in August. And with that 4-8 finish, there's no doubt in my mind that Doug Marrone is coaching for his job in 2013.

And if that means Doug Marrone gets five years, one more than Greg Robison got, that at least feels fair to me.

I don't like it but I can't fight it at this point. As Greggers used to say, it is what it is. Marrone's not winning, his team plays ugly and makes tons of mistakes over and over and there doesn't seem to be anything changing. The future looks bright with Zach Allen and Ashton Broyld but there's only so long you can bank on the future as a reason to keep a guy around.

But until then, I will do my very best to be patient. It is not easy. It's hard as hell. My patience disappears during every game, only to reappear in less amounts on Sunday. I see how many have lost patience and I get it. I don't quite understand the people rooting AGAINST Doug Marrone. I don't see what they dislike about him. I'm certainly not going to do something as asinine as root for Syracuse to lose games.

Knowing what you know about Marrone, the kind of guys he is, how he feels about SU...why WOULDN'T you want him to turn it around? That's what I don't get. Especially when you realize that his replacement will also probably need 3-5 years to do his thing. Not sure you've thought that through.

Patience is wearing thin. I'm doing my best to hold on to it. I don't have much of a choice. I'm a Syracuse football fan.

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