OK, let's have a quick review of why Syracuse Orange football fans shouldn't be too thrilled for 2013 to start:
- Doug Marrone is long gone (leaving behind a rather complicated legacy).
- Same goes for Ryan Nassib, the record setting quarterback is now on to the New York football Giants -- and a lot of skill and front line players are gone too.
- Preseason predictions aren't exactly calling for Syracuse to set the college football world on fire in 2013.
All true, but, dadgummit, there is plenty of reason to be excited for 2013, and beyond!
Now, part of the enthusiasm has to do with the fact that football is football. I know personally I'm forever waiting for the start of the season -- any season. Hell, I was daydreaming about what could be even during the Greg Robinson era. So coming off a fairly successful 2013 and entering a new conference, even though it's only June, looking at the 2013 schedule has me pumped.
Penn State (in New Jersey), at Northwestern, home to Clemson, at Florida State for SU this season? Yes please. Even watching Syracuse play in Raleigh against North Carolina State is something I'm looking forward to. It's all a little new, a little to a lot different, and it's all football.
But you know something, in studying the future league schedule for the Orange, all seems right with the world, doesn't it? Just look at the 2014 ACC schedule:
Home: Duke, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Notre Dame (MetLife)
Road: Boston College, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest
That's not SEC football of course, and it's not exactly a murder's row for Syracuse, but that's one hell of a schedule. I don't even care that the home game against Notre Dame isn't even at home. 2014 will provide a lot of drama for the Orange. Sure, SU may find itself on the wrong side of the scoreboard a few too many times, but practically every week brings an opponent with a little somethin'-somethin'.
And given the division come '14 - Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, NC State and Wake Forest - each season will bring a handful, or more, of must-see games. There's the needs-a-little-work-rivalries with the Golden Eagles and Panthers, the big draws in the 'Noles and Tigers, and the up-and-coming Cardinals. Hell, Louisville may be on its way to becoming a regular top-tier team in the nation -- possibly the class of the ACC (although, who doesn't remember that being said about the program before it jumped into the Big East?).
The ACC is looking pretty good.
I know all along Orange fans have all been comforted by the move to the ACC by watching the Big East burn and become...this, and they've taken solace fantasizing thinking about SU playing Duke and Carolina in hoops, but this whole football thing kind of takes me back to before the Big East really imploded (easy to do considering how many Big East schools that are now apart of the ACC). Back before John Swofford bellied up to Miami,
Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. The conference wasn't a powerhouse, but it produced quality teams with an occasional team or two really making noise. It was fun, it was exciting, it was something to look forward to.
That's what I'm thinking the ACC could become once everything and everyone falls into place. Maybe Clemson or Florida State or even Louisville will battle for the BCS, and maybe some of the other teams will hang around the top 25. Not exactly shooting for the moon here, I know. But even with tempered expectations, there is a lot to look forward to when it comes to ACC football.
Meaning: Syracuse football may take a step backward next season -- maybe not -- but at least it won't be back-stepping in a league only going backwards. Give Scott Shafer and company a little time, because there's a lot to look forward to.