Syracuse Football: The Sham Of The Spring Game


Syracuse University football plenty of memorable moments. Spring games are not usually among them.

You know why Syracuse will never see its annual spring game televised by ESPN? Actually, it's probably the same reason why you're not likely to attend Saturday's event*: Syracuse routinely botches this annual rite of college football passage.

(*Calm down, I didn't mean you. I was talking about someone else who isn't going to the game.)

Syracuse's spring game is usually garbage.

1995 was my first experience with this...thing. Back then the game was offense vs. defense, with scoring coming from interceptions, sacks, tackles for loss, and, oh yeah, actual touchdowns. It was one of those games where you needed a program not to just to figure out the players, but to try and decipher what the hell was going on out there.

That was Paul Pasqualoni's version, which wasn't far off from predecessor Dick MacPherson's swing at the spring game. Actually, Doug Marrone, a Coach Mac disciple, went offense vs. defense back in 2010 -- mostly because SU had about 15 healthy bodies at the time. But it seems like no matter the coach or the situation, the spring game is almost always a bust.


It's a word most often used in a derogatory manner. But it would actually be a compliment to Greg Robinson's spring game. Remember that? "Scripted" plays! Thud drills! What a way to make fans catch the Syracuse Orange football fever. Blah. Thank the football gods we won't be seeing that on Saturday, along with anything else from the Robinson era for that matter.

But as's Michael Cohen reports, plans are still up in the air for whatever this spring game will look like. Head coach Scott Shafer sounds like he will let his players play a game, maybe. So that's good. Yet it's hard not to watch LSU or Alabama on TV in April and think, "Why can't that be done here?" (As Sean pointed out last year, the spring game is what it is for Syracuse and a lot of other schools in the Northeast.)

I'm not talking about selling out the Dome. That doesn't happen in the fall, there's no chance it would happen on a cold Saturday in the spring. And I understand that Syracuse still lacks for able-bodies when it comes to rolling out a full roster. But when did Syracuse lose the game in "spring game"? Why is it a question to what will actually take place?

It's an event culminating the first practices of the year. It should be a time for players to actually play the game they've been working, bleeding and sweating for. And, just as important, it's a time to show off for the fans. A "Hey, look at us! You can't wait for September now, right?!" Instead, it's too often been a Saturday of stale air, small crowds, and not much action.

Instead of answering questions about what's to come, the spring game, like with me in '95, usually leaves fans walking away scratching their heads. It should be easy: make it look like what we all watch during the season -- make it look like football. We see the hardworking/hardnosed players and coaches urging you to show up (a group not to be blamed for the spring game issues) but it would be an easier sell if fans knew attending the spring game meant watching an actual game.

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