If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, does anyone care about summer time college football rankings?
This is the that time of the year when fall practice is too far down the road and spring practice is too far in the rear view. Meaning, there are a lot of 'filler' type stories floating around in attempt to keep fans interested during the summer months.
Case in point; Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel has updated his 'Program Pecking Order' ranking BCS teams. Not for the upcoming season, but more in the context of all time. This is something SU fans would generally look over, but not exactly get too excited to read. However, Syracuse, despite recent on field results, fared pretty well in this obvious my-editor-needs-something exercise of producing summer story lines.
Mandel ranked BCS teams from the top, Kings, down to the bottom, Peasants. SU comes in, respectably enough, as a Knight. A lower tier yes, but not in the basement. That's despite winning a total of 22 games in the last five years. So why does this matter? Well, if perception is reality, which is often the case in just about everything, then Syracuse football, even with all of the losing, isn't in that bad of a position nationally after all.
Is it a big deal that Syracuse wasn't the worst in a worthless grouping of college football programs? A ranking that was clearly done as an off-season time waster. Actually, yeah, it is. As long as we all consider the last ten or so years rock bottom (2010 was great, but as of now it's still more of an anomaly than anything else.), then maybe our rock bottom isn't so bad.
In a weird way, Mandel's rankings actually made me feel better as a Syracuse fan. Especially as coach Doug Marrone is starting to feel some heat as he attempts to 'right' the program. Some of the fan base is starting to let out some anger towards the coach over the up and down struggles (Calm the F down on that by the way.). As we sit less than two months from what could be another tough season, the pressure is mounting, little by little, on Marrone and the entire program.
While (paraphrasing the getting-more-sleazy-by-the-year Rick Pitino) Jim Brown isn't walking through that Carrier Dome door, the fact he ever walked through any door at Syracuse is good enough it seems. Brown, along with all of those greats like Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Larry Czonka, Joe Morris, and Rob Moore, gave Syracuse a built in equity that SU can borrow against for seemingly just about forever.
That equity alone won't allow for Syracuse to get back to the mountain top like in 1959. It also will not help the school produce another Heisman Trophy winner. But, that historical built up insurance policy, will keep allowing Syracuse to be recognized as a a fairly relevant school, allow for the team to be on national TV, allow for that microscopic hope of making the BCS.
So, for now anyway, instead of remembering that SU has lost more than it has won under Marrone, which includes the current five game losing streak, or thinking back/having involuntary flash backs to the Greg Robinson era, I'll take solace in the fact the program still registers, albeit barely.
That rich past of great players and great times and how all of that still can be parlayed into present success. And even if that success will never be like Alabama or USC, the fact that SU will remain at least relatively relevant in the main stream thanks to its past is comforting enough.
Hey, it's July, I'll take what I can get.