Days after the 2012 National Signing Day for NCAA football, one thing is clear: The Syracuse Orange are not getting better. The 2012 Syracuse recruiting class includes 22 players, but none seem to be major, noteworthy stars. In fact, depending upon the scouting website you choose, we may not even have a true, 4-star player joining the team for the upcoming season.
I respect and appreciate Doug Marrone. He wears his passion for the Orange on his sleeve, and I would never question his desire to win. His teams have shown flashes in his short tenure as the 'Cuse's head coach. Most recently, the shellacking of the West Virginia Mountaineers this past season. However, something is still missing, and if you ask me, it's the quality of athletes being recruited. Syracuse began last season with a recruiting rank of 57, and it's no mystery how that turned out. This coming season, the Orange have jumped to #51 overall, but it would be a stretch to consider this a major advancement. Marrone is entering his fourth year, and the recruiting is no different than it was in year one. Meanwhile, Urban Meyer finished in the top 5, with a team banned from a bowl game in upcoming season. Now, before you attack this post, I am not comparing Urban Meyer and Doug Marrone, nor am I comparing the Ohio State and Syracuse football programs in any way, shape or form. However, a coach needs to drive recruiting results. We can't win games without better recruits, and we can't get better recruits until we win games. Is it a catch-22? Sure. Does Doug Marrone get paid millions to handle this scenario and find a way to be successful? Absolutely.
While I understand Syracuse is a basketball school first, I still can't help but be jealous of the programs who have top-25 teams in both sports. We used to be one of those teams, and I'm desperate to see the Orange reach that plateau once again. In order to achieve such a lofty goal, it starts with personnel. For some reason, we're not getting the recruits we need to build a solid program, and I can't say as though I understand why. We have a beautiful stadium and campus, a devoted head coach, a dominating basketball program and a smart, energetic and passionate fan base. In addition, Syracuse University is arguably one of the best communication schools in the country, if not THE best. Yet somehow, Rutgers, a team who just lost their head coach (and soon-to-be several assistants) to the NFL, was able to secure the 25th overall recruiting class for the upcoming season; twice as strong as the Orange.
I know the rule: One shouldn't present a problem without also presenting a potential solution. However, sadly, I have no idea how to fix this. I want so badly to see our football program resurrected. We owe it to guys like Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Marvin Harrison, Donovan McNabb and Dwight Freeney to find a way to win. Perhaps the move to the ACC will have a big impact on our ability to find and secure better players. No disrespect to our current roster, but Syracuse should be a name that strikes fear in the hearts of our opponents when we appear on the schedule for the new year, as opposed to a pushover. I'm remain cautiously optimistic, but I fear more of the same for the Orange in 2012.