I wasn't thinking of LSU when I got this email on Tuesday:
(Yes, I was getting a text from a friend at the same time this screen shot was taken. And yes, my friend Pete likes to call people "dudely" and "broham.")
A "major announcement" to unveil at Destiny USA! What could it be? Uniform changes seemed most obvious, but when Niko Tamurian tweeted this,
According to a source, there MAY actually be TWO major announcements made by SU at Destiny tomorrow. @CNYcentral— Niko Tamurian (@NikoTamurian) April 16, 2014
...I was a little thrown off. I mean, uniform changes have been talked about for so long around here that it's taken this long for SU to officially introduce them was surprising. But another "major" announcement on top of new jerseys? Hmm...A new arena? A new SU Athletics store to be housed at Destiny?
And then Sean Farrell goes and tweets LSU and Syracuse, home-and-home,
and my instant reaction is, Yeah, count me out on that one. "Major announcement" or just regular announcement, or no announcement, I'm not in on it.
All I can think about is watching the Orange get beaten down in the Bayou in a couple of seasons from now -- a loss that at its best would be deflating to a season and at its worst would be stunting to a program. Unless LSU takes a serious nosedive or Syracuse makes a gigantic leap, I can't envision that game ending well for Shafer's crew.
But a funny thing happened on the way to writing this scathing column. In my constant effort to see the other side of every argument, which is a coping mechanism for insecurity, I literally talked myself right into being excited for the Tigers. Well, at least for the 2015 game. A game that's actually going to be played in the Big Sauna right in Central New York. A game that could attract 48,000-plus fans.
Listen, I don't think Syracuse will win that game next year, but there are some reasons to at least think it could be more competitive than I originally believed.
(Who likes bullet points? Good!)
- Experience - 2015 will theoretically be Terrel Hunt's senior season. If you're going to battle the Big Boys you'll most certainly want an experienced quarterback leading the charge.
- More Experience - Glance at the 2014 roster and you'll notice a lot of sophomores and juniors that will be juniors and seniors come '15. That includes key players like Ashton Broyld and Durell Eskridge and a bunch of other players that are expected to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
- Scott Shafer - This could be classified as "Experience" as well, but I decided to give Shafer his own category. Think about his 2013 debut season for a moment. There is little question Shafer was learning by fire, figuring things out as they went along. And by the time December rolled around, I got the feeling Shafer had come into his own. By September of 2015 Shafer will have two full seasons of figuring things out under his belt.
- Carrier Dome - I was too young to watch the win over Nebraska, but I certainly remember Syracuse's win over Florida in 1991. The dome was never the most intimidating (despite some revisionist historians pleas to the contrary) but there was certainly a time where the Loud House meant more than just hoops. Ignore the Greg Robinson era and you can see SU has had success against upper-echelon teams under the bubble.
I'll stand by original tweet, though, and, if given a choice, I would much prefer Syracuse to A) play nonconference games against more regional-based opponents like Penn State, Maryland or even West Virginia, and B) stay away from the real Big Boys like LSU and USC. More often than not a closer-than-expected loss like SU experienced against SC a couple of seasons ago is probably the most to be gained. Hosting the Terrapins isn't "sexy," but it's something of a regional rivalry and who needs more bling than Florida State or Clemson or even, every so often, Miami? The ACC does offer a lot in terms of competitive opponents, if you think about it.
Yet, we all know Daryl Gross is going to forever schedule marquee contests for the Orange, even if they would be better served to be apart of the preliminary card. SU is kind of a Koko B. Ware to Gross' vision of it being Hulk Hogan. And because of that, and because the nature of college football is to get on national television and collect a big gate, Syracuse will continue to put itself out there, even when "there" is the woodshed.
Which is ultimately one of the reasons I started to reconsider my initial #HotSportsTake on this "major" announcement. We can't do anything about Gross' scheduling, so we might as while embrace it and look for the silver linings. And it just so happens that come September of 2015 a silver lining could mean a packed Carrier Dome, a top-ten LSU and a the best chance at Syracuse "shocking the world" in decades.
Of course, the dark cloud to that silver lining should be one ugly blowout loss in a few years from now, but there's no need to think about the Orange playing at LSU right now.