Syracuse Football: Pinstripe Part II - You Cool With This?

Chris McGrath

Two months ago Syracuse was in the middle of another losing season. Two months later Syracuse is preparing for its second bowl berth in three years. Is the fact the Orange are playing in the Pinstripe Bowl, again, a problem?

Sunday evening wasn't exactly like Selection Sunday for college basketball, but there was still plenty of excitement for Syracuse University. Its football program, just a few weeks ago left for dead, was waiting to hear where it would be traveling to for the holidays - a second bowl vacation in the last three years.

The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, or, as most thought it would be, a return trip to New York City to play in another Pinstripe Bowl, any of those destinations could have awaited the Orange. But it wasn't just the Where that had Orange fans refreshing Twitter every few minutes. The Who was a pretty intriguing question, too.

Would the Orange battle West Virginia in another one of those "One More Time For The Last Time" games? Could Syracuse go up against other high-flying Big 12 offenses like Baylor or Oklahoma State? Would the Orange take on a future Atlantic Coast "rival" like Duke?

It wasn't exactly like waiting out Greg Gumbel and a million Coke Zero commercials to find out the region and opponent, but it was fun speculating where Syracuse would play and who they would line up against. I mean, bash the bowl system, the BCS, school presidents, and the advertising machine that makes the process possible all you want, but the guessing game this weekend was refreshing, dare I say...fun.

Of course, we now know the answers - Pinstripe Bowl, December 29, against West Virginia. But there is still one unanswered question out there: You cool with this match up for the Orange?

To the Twitter!

@ShannyCuse very excited! Went to the last one and had a blast. Stayed in NYC for NYE, so it was a great trip! Doing it again!!

I'd rather shove pennies underneath my fingernails while watching Tennessee v. Georgetown basketball on a loop than go to New York City for New Year's Eve - but Shannon, and I'm sure a lot of other sadomasochistic Orange fans, are making a bowl game into a Bowl week!

@BAmeyTV I feel this is the best bowl for us to go to besides a BCS bowl. Great venue, close for fans, basically a home game

@bradslavin Ready to salute after every first down. Pinstripe may not be as "prestigious" but if not BCS, it's about ease of fan travel

Location, location, location! Syracuse is New York's team, right? So a bowl game, even a redo of sorts, in the Bronx should equate to a whole lot of Orange fans packing Yankee Stadium. Daryl Gross, PHD, gets one last chance to showcase to Rutgers everyone just how NY SU actually is.

And the thing is, Yankee Stadium, even in its current modern form, is still a special place for baseball. How cool is it that Syracuse is going to play two games, football games, there?

@EKohli Excited. Get to bring my kids to Yankee Stadium to watch the Cuse in a bowl game.

@TheKevo23 big yay. Will now have attended more su football games at new Yankee stadium than baseball games

Not to mention, Syracuse has a chance to vaguely, kind of, John Thompson Jr. the Big East.

@GoCuseGo want to win the game so we can say 'The Pinstripe Bowl is officially CLOSED'

Awesome. I don't care that the Pinstripe Bowl is likely to go on after this year, I want Doug Marrone at center field after the game, holding the Pinstripe Bowl and Ben Schwartzwalder trophies, to say that quote and then drop the mic. Who cares how that would even work given that the trophies each weigh like 50 pounds and are as cumbersome as they are heavy, I want to see this.

And so do other Syracuse fans:

@tjbasalla Definite yay. We're going to have a great crowd and we will have new bowl opps in the ACC. Great last hurrah.

Overall the general response was pure excitement. Excitement for having another bowl game "close" to home (insert Syracuse never leaves the state joke here), excitement to play possibly for the last time, at least in a bowl setting, in Yankee Stadium, and excitement for another chance at West Virginia (although, be careful what you wish for).

And there was another reason for all the happy Orange fans Sunday evening as the bowl announcements leaked out on Twitter: The fact that Orange are even going bowling in the first place.

@MShelmidine15 How can anyone complain for a program that won 1 game 6 years ago?!? To go to 2 bowls in 3 years is awesome for the program

Exactly. It was about a month or so ago we were all starting to wonder a little bit about Marrone. Hell, some "fans" out there were starting to speculate on who would take over the program. But Syracuse's recent history is never far from anyone's mind, and the fact that Marrone has not only made Syracuse competitive, but a bowl team two times in his fours years is simply amazing. Even the most jaded Syracuse fans have to be happy "their" team is still playing, never mind where and against who.

Although, playing in a new venue and city could have added a little...sauce to the Orange fans life:

@jordanjargon I was really looking forward to eating weird amounts of barbeque in Birmingham. Alas.

Empty, delicious calories aside, few fans are really upset with a return trip to the Pinstripe Bowl because no one really thought SU was going bowling until just a couple of weeks ago. At 1-3 no one saw the wild ride coming. The fact that it is ending in the same stadium as the 2010 season's wild ride ended isn't important.

This ride happening at all, the program now playing in two bowl games in four years of Marrone, those are facts that matter now. In 2010 everyone, the team and its fans, were just happy to be in the Pinstripe Bowl. This time around, while there is a happy-to-be-here element, fans are now pointing to the bigger picture - the Pinstripe Bowl this time around proves as progress for the program. Next year should lead to a better bowl given how the program has turned it up on the field, in recruiting, and in coaching.

Next year should be even more exciting then, awaiting a possible berth in a bigger, better bowl. December "March Madness." Something Orange fans hope to circle on the calender each year.

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