Patience. It is the quintessential quality that so many sports fans lack. It's the lack of patience that made so many Syracuse Orange fans begin calling for Doug Marrone's head this season. It's the lack of patience that makes so many people forget just how far we've come in four years. And I believe it's that same lack of patience that led quite a few Syracuse fans to feel disappointed by a return to the Pinstripe Bowl this year.
I have absolutely no problem with playing in the Pinstripe this year and, if given the chance between this or the Belk, I'd still choose this. And here's why...
Right Place, Right Time
Bowl games are meaningless exhibitions. We know this for 11 months out of the year but for one month each year, we forget this. We assign way too much value to them and we assume way too many people will remember what happens in them. Quick, without checking, tell me who played in the 2006 Holiday Bowl. Exactly.
Syracuse is on its way up, but we're not "there" yet. Playing an opponent above our pay grade does us no good right now. And playing in a faraway locale won't have nearly as much impact as you might think it will. SU is in that middle area where people are aware that we exist and aware that we are decent but don't really care about the specifics. Better to play in a place like this right now than try to overstep our means...
Protect Our House
I mistweeted the other night that the difference between Syracuse fan tickets sold between the Pinstripe Bowl and BBVA Compass Bowl was 3K. I meant 30K. I love Syracuse fans but, let's face it, we aren't the traveling type for football. I went to the 1999 Orange Bowl at the height of the Donovan McNabb Era. There were probably 2-3K Syracuse fans there. That's about it.
The Pinstripe Bowl is probably the only bowl out there in which Syracuse fans are a sure thing. That place not only will be jammed but it will be full of orange-clad lunatics cheering on SU. You want to look good for the nation? Let them see a packed stadium full of orange shirts (and coats).
Right For Recruits
Sure, there's something to be said for playing in Charlotte or Orlando and using that to invite potential recruits outside our home turf. But don't fool yourself, we haven't completely locked down our home turf yet. For all the gains Doug Marrone's staff has made, there's still more to be done. Rutgers' move to the Big Ten is a bright, shiny ball for NY/NJ recruits right now and Penn State is back on their feet. Marrone needs to pull out all the stops and keep pulling them until we know for sure that every major NY/NJ/PA recruit automatically gives us a look. The Pinstripe Bowl is another tool to help make that happen.
West Virginia Just Fine
I know a lot of fans who would have liked to have seen a fresh face like Oklahoma State or Texas Tech standing across the field from us, and I certainly know that many West Virginia fans wish they were playing someone else, but I personally love the chance to play them one more time.
For the first time that I can ever remember, Syracuse is playing a bowl game with actual emotional investment.
Whether West Virginia fans want to admit it or not, there is rivalry here. There is history. And there is bad blood. Throw in the fact that, in spite of West Virginia's overall dominance, Syracuse has owned them in recent years, and you've got a very compelling game for Orange fans.
I will assume the Schwartzwalder Trophy is on the line, and it should be (what other upcoming SU/WVU game would you be saving it for?). That adds a whole other dimension to it.
Beating West Virginia here would be cathartic. Like a final FU to these guys. They'll still thumb their nose at us, call us an inferior team and unironically say things like "Big Least," all the while ignoring the fact that we beat them three-straight times. Not to mention we'd have a win over a Big 12 school, which would be a nice feather in the cap.
Today The Pinstripe Bowl, Tomorrow The World
Syracuse made it to the Pinstripe two years ago. In theory, last year should have been either a return to the same spot or a slight step forward. Instead, it was a step back. Now we've gotten back to the "starting point." Next year, we can expect the program to get a little better and for the bowl game to improve with it. But for now, getting back to this spot is a good thing and a great launching pad.
I look forward to the day when a Pinstripe Bowl berth will be a disappointment, but for right here and right now, I have the patience to see that it's the perfect game for us.