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Devin Gardner, Michigan Football and Restoring 44


[Disclosure; even though I am a '12 grad of SU and I have watched way too much SU football the past 5 years, this year I have not seen a down because I'm doing grad school at ND and the past two games have been at the exact same time as the SU games. I'm not sure if this is exactly a bad thing ATM.]

Yesterday I was one of the 115,000 people at the Big House to watch Michigan (grr) beat Notre Dame in the last forseeable matchup (probably for like 5 years) between the two rival midwest programs, and before the game a jersey that was previously retired to honor a hiesman trophy winner was *gasp* UNRETIRED and given to a deserving senior.

/world explodes

//but not really because the only person to mind was someone who posted a well written fanshot on deadspin.

In a ceremony before the Michigan-Notre Dame game, Devin Garnder was awarded the historic #98 previously worn by the first Heisman winner in the history of Michigan Football, Tom Harmon. He's going to wear it until the end of the season.

Now based off my 5 years of watching SU football, nothing generates a discussion more than restoring 44 (except for long Gerg epitaphs to the teams that employ him #lolhorns) and this seems like a good model to work with if we ever are good enough to warrant a 44 restoration again. Before the Michigan game, Tom Harmon was honored with one of those kick ass sports montages on the video boards, which then lead to a quick ceremony on the field of Mark Harmon (Tom Harmon's Son) giving his blessing to allow Gardner to wear the 98. It was quick, tasteful, and was saved for a gigantic game between one of Michigan's biggest rivals.

[Note that Michigan had a meaningless home game the week before against middle directional state, and saved the 98 reveal for the night game against Notre Dame.]

With SU, this can easily be repeated, albeit with a few tweaks. For one, if SU does restore 44, I believe it should be for a game, not a season (but I can be convinced otherwise). This way the athletes can work to get their own number retired. I think, for arguments' sake Jerome Smith, would have more pride in seeing a small 45 hanging up in the dome rather than being listed as one of the many (some not that unbelievably great) running backs to wear the 44.

Two, this can be repeated with players who didn't wear 44. For a big game and one of our wide receivers is having a monster year, he gets to wear #8. Ryan Nassib last year going against USC? He gets to wear #5. Chandler Jones coming back for a huge game against West Virginia? #54. Really good TE? #88. Its much better than doing some lackluster ceremony during halftime. Building off point one, by it only being one game the player can retain their identity and build their own legacy as well.

Third, this pains me to say it but, we have to be good again.

/ducks

What I mean is that, we haven't had a 'good' year in the past three years. We've had not bad years, we've had not suck years, we've travelled out of the valley of darkness that was the Greg Robinson era into the nice Doug Marrone purgatory and considering the hell that was Gerg it felt like heaven. But we still haven't won 8 regular season games since 2001, and that's my line of being a good football team - my reasoning is that every football team gets two cream puff games a year, for us this year that's Wagner and Tulane. Which leaves 10 real football teams left on the schedule. If you go 6-4 against them, you're a good football team. So either we need to be on our way to 8-4 or coming off of a season in which we finished 8-4 before we start unretiring orangemen jerseys.

Four weeks from now for the Clemson game Nike could very easily reveal some asinine neon orange jersey for Syracuse, and every player on the field could very easily be wearing 44 a la Jackie Robinson day and I will not care as long as Syracuse wins. But if we want to do restore 44 tastefully, the process above might be the best way for all parties involved.

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