Is it just me or is next season kind of the elephant in the room when it comes to Syracuse football? That unavoidable topic hovering over everyone. Like finances with the spouse or religion or politics with the in-laws. And I know 2012 isn't over yet, so why look ahead to what seems like a cloudy football future?
While one month a season does not make, I think the most optimistic of fans has to have some doubt that the Orange will go from 1-3 to at least six wins. Doable? Yes. Likely? Debatable. And another losing season, as we've pointed out, would, in some way or another, turn up the heat on coach Doug Marrone's seat.
Now, I'm not going to Tebow this topic to death. In fact, I don't really want to even kick around the subject of Marrone's job security because A) We've done that a lot and B) I think barring some crazy scandal Marrone's got at least one more year -- assuming the school hasn't already extended his contract, which I maintain is either done or very close to being done.
I'm not here to put dirt on anyone's coffin. Rather, I write this because I find discussing the future of Orange football to be so bizarre. Fans are putting off looking ahead because this season isn't over and because, judging by the first month, there is a fear that the season will end with more losses than wins, again.
And if that happens, then what? After 2012 Syracuse football moves on to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Football, and every other sport as we know it, will be forever changed. It'll be odd to watch SU hoops play in the ACC and much more fascinating to watch SU lacrosse in its new power house league. But, all things considered, Orange football may have the most on the line when the big block A-C-C is officially painted onto Ernie Davis Field.
Not only could this move further derail Marrone's rebuilding process, if next season results in even more losses, Marrone could be out of a job. And regardless of what you think of Big East football and its three ranked teams, the ACC still offers up Florida State, Clemson, and some huge challenges for Syracuse. Big pressure for a big move.
But, after the ACC announced its scheduling plans, maybe this elephant-in-the-room of a move won't be so detrimental after all. At least for 2013.
Please read the following with an understanding that I write this assuming the wheels won't come flying off of 2012 for Syracuse. As I've pointed out, I don't see Marrone getting fired come December. Even if he guides the team to just 3 or 4 wins, Daryl Gross, PHD, isn't going to drop the hammer. If the team were to do that poorly, it would be acceptable for fans to be angry with Marrone, but a firing wouldn't be justified.
Still, three or four wins in '12 will put a lot of pressure, public or otherwise, on Marrone's team to succeed in 2013. But, judging by the way next year's schedule looks right now, honest-to-goodness success could be had for the Orange next year.
Look at the list of teams Syracuse will face next year. Let's break this down (remembering that we do not know the dates for any of these games):
- @ Northwestern -- Probably a loss
- Penn State -- @ Meadowlands -- I'll call this one a likely win
- Tulane -- Carrier Dome -- A winnable non-league game if there ever was one
- *TBD* -- Carrier Dome -- I assume it'll be an FCS win in the Dome.
That's three very winnable games even before SU hits the meat of the ACC schedule. Again, we don't know the order of events, which could changes things significantly, but looking at what we know now, I like SU's chances in the non-conference portion of 2013.
As for the ACC? Syracuse's division opponents have a combined 10 losses. I wouldn't consider Wake Forest (currently 3-2 with one loss coming against Duke, at home!), Boston College (1-3 with its only win coming against FCS Maine), Maryland (2-2 with an L to Paul Pasqualoni's UConn Huskies), or NC (3-2 with wins over The Citadel and South Alabama...) a murderer's row, would you? Now, SU does have to play Florida State and Clemson, and both of those games could be on the road, but every other game, home or away, should be at least close. The Orange will also face Pitt next season. A team that will be losing a lot of talent and making just as big a move to the ACC as Syracuse is doing.
So while we all attempt to make sense of what this Orange team is or has become, and while we all try to decide if or win Marrone's job will be in jeopardy at some point soon, maybe looking forward to next year isn't so strange. Maybe, The move to the ACC isn't exactly jumping up to the SEC. Maybe things will actually pick up even if that's not until next season.
Of course, Marrone will be taking a team with him that will be replacing at least 8 starters total, including school record holders QB Ryan Nassib and WR Alec Lemon. So, things could...actually, we don't really need to talk about rosters and depth charts right now, right?