The Syracuse Orange fan base went through a lot during 2012, but believe it or not, 2013 was crazier. Don't believe me? Well, to help kickstart the New Year, I ranked the top 13 TNIAAM stories of 2013 -- and boy was it a task.
I gave a brief recap of each of the top stories, but if you'd like more details I linked a lot of this year's TNIAAM articles/columns/videos for you to click on.
Enjoy all, and go ahead and discuss the list and events below.
1) Syracuse In The Final Four - April 6-8
It was the first time in the TNIAAM era the Syracuse Orange basketball team reached the Final Four, which in 2013 was held in Atlanta, Georgia.
We will get into how this all happened later on, but the week-long hoopla that was the Orange's fifth trip to the Big Dance's final show was fantastic. It was so special that Sean Keeley made the trip, along with many other TNIAAMers, as did Bernie Fine? (Weird.)
During the game, the Wolverines raced out to a 11-point halftime lead by executing a perfect game plan for the 2-3 zone. However, Syracuse put together one helluva effort, thanks to fantastic play by C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant, to pull within one possession of tying the game with 19 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately, what stood between Syracuse advancing to the National Champion Game against the Louisville Cardinals, was a controversial blocking call on Triche, who chose to take the game into his own hands by driving to the basket. (It can be argued the call on Triche is what led to the new NCAA block/charge rule.) Instead of getting the call and going to the line with a chance to tie, Triche exited the game with his fifth foul.
SU had another chance to tie the game, however, a last-ditch effort was spoiled by good Michigan defense and a bad shot by Trevor Cooney, who was thrust into the tough spot because Michael Carter-Williams had fouled out.
It started out as an idea to send 200 kids to the Texas Bowl to help root on the Syracuse Orange. The goal quickly changed to 400 kids. It then quickly blew up into something all TNIAAMers can be extremely proud of, as you all helped raise over $44,444.44 to help buy 1,400 tickets for children. (I mean, come on you guys. You're all awesome!)
In the end, over 700 kids saw the Orange pull off a fantastic victory over Minnesota. One kid even saw his first touchdown! It may not have turned out all Happily Ever After, but this was well worth the effort (and boy what an effort it was).
I still can't get over how huge this thing got, and Sean Keeley was well deserving of his MVP award that ESPN's Brett McMurphy gave him on Sports Center.
(Hey guys! We made it on Sports Center!!)
3) Doug Marrone takes Buffalo Bills head coaching job/Scott Shafer hired as new SU head coach - Jan. 6-7
It is crazy how stories develop sometimes. First, it starts as a rumor. Second, we justify (via Bachelorette style), "OK, Marrone deserves his shot to interview with NFL teams." Third, it is waking up one morning and realizing, "Holy S***, he is actually leaving (FOR BUFFALO?)!!!" Then, of course, TNIAAM needs to list 44 random thoughts on said story.
That's how, in two days, SU football's head coaching saga played out, as Marrone headed West on I-90 and Shafer was promoted to HCSS by DOCTOR Gross.
It would have been easy to list these as individual stories, however, after thinking about it they are one big story, as one decision lead to the other one happening.
A couple few fun things to note about Marrone/Shafer is: 1) There was a small amount of time when it was reported that Nate Hackett was staying on as offensive coordinator; 2) All of the hoopla led to the best damn introductory press conference ever!; and 3) it led to quarterback recruit Zach Allen decommitting from SU and, instead, accepting a scholarship offer to play at TCU after saying he was still 100-percent committed to the program, had reportedly signed a LOI to play at SU and was still recruiting for the Orange!. (Nutty!)
All-in-all, Marrone ended up going 6-10 in his first season as Bills head coach and there's a bunch of question marks surrounding his second year with the organization, while Shafer will be entering his second season as SU's head coach on a big high from a Texas Bowl victory.
(P.S, before Marrone actually left John Cassillo wrote a piece on who could replace him if he decided to bolt for the NFL. Hackett and Shafer were on that list, while Duke's David Cutcliffe, who had a fantastic year with the Blue Devils, was also listed as an option. Now, imagine if that had happened.)
4) James Southerland Ruled Ineligible - Jan. 12-Feb. 10
Six days after Doug Marrone bolted for his new dream job, the Syracuse basketball program tossed out its annual mid-season press release about a player becoming academically ineligible. (Of course, this led to the annual TNIAAM article about in-season basketball news stories that blow the eff up.)
At the time, Southerland was the Orange's leading scorer averaging 13 points per game and was shooting lights-out from 3-point range. Come to find out, just like the Fab Melo situation a year before, SU was keeping Southerland out because of an NCAA investigation, which we later found out, from Southerland, had something to do with a few paragraphs in a term paper. (We found this news out from ESPN's Andy Katz during a broadcast of Syracuse vs. UConn, which concluded with a post-game press conference from Boeheim that featured him calling the reporter a disloyal idiot; which led to a bunch of national media members overreacting, but whatevs.)
During the hoopla, which lasted six games, ending on Feb. 10 before a Sunday showdown with St. John's, there were stories about how Southerland had a great Fall semester (via Jim Boeheim), also academic rumors surrounding point guard Michael Cater-Williams, which ended up being a bunch of BS.
All-in-all, Southerland returned, DID NOT GET PULLED BEFORE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT, and Syracuse went on to do very good things.
5) Syracuse basketball resurrects itself during final Big East Tournament run - March 13-16
It is silly to think this story is ranked fifth on the list, but that is how the Syracucse sports scene was in 2013.
The march began with a beautiful 75-63 victory over Seton Hall in the second round. James Southerland went all 2013-14 Trevor Cooney (see what I did there?) on the Pirates netting 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range.
SU moved onto the semis after downing Pittsburgh, 62-59, thanks to another strong performance from Southerland.
Waiting in the semis was Georegtown, which a few days before had embarassed the Orange at the Verizon Center in the duos final regular season Big East showdown.
However, this was a different 'Cuse squad. Thanks to Cooney's best game to date (which at the time was going just 4-for-6 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point arc), Baye Moussa Kieta going all Matrix, and, maybe, the most famous dunk in Syracuse basketball history, the Orange went on to avenge their previous losses to the Hoyas with an amazing 58-55 overtime victory.
The following night, Syracuse raced out to a 16-point lead over the No. 1-ranked Louisville Cardinals but lost by 17 points because the Cardinals were really, really good. (Sean's recap is really, really good too.)
The way SU lost to the Cardinals is probably the No. 1 reason this story isn't higher on the list. But, man, what a freakin few days that was. It makes us all miss the BET at MSG.
6) Victory Over Indiana/Marquette in East Regional Semi/Finals - March 29-30
After getting a odd draw in the NCAA Tournament's East Region by earning the No. 4-seed and traveling to San Jose, CA to play the Montana Grizzlies (SETH DAVIS' UPSET SPECIAL and a impressive 81-34 victory) and the California Golden Bears (who nearly go right back into a 66-60 win), the Orange headed back East to play at Georgetown's Verizon Center for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 -- which sparked talk about gravy.
SU's first showdown was against the No. 1-seeded Indiana Hoosiers, who was an UNSTOPPABLE FORCE and the PERFECT TEAM TO BEAT THE 2-3 ZONE, according to some local and national media people that had no idea what they were talking about.
In fact, the Hoosiers didn't even make a game of it has they struggled badly against SU's zone defense scoring only 50 points. The Orange netted 61 thanks to a strong performance by MCW, Keita and Triche.
The final stats showed Marquette was held to 22.6-percent shooting and 39 total points, the lowest total of points in a Regional Final in the shot clock area. Southerland led the way with a game-high 16 points.
This year's football season was a nutty one, as Shafer won our hearts, Drew Allen was a flop, George McDonald pissed us off a few times and when all hope seemed to be lost, Terrel "freakin" Hunt came to the M*$&%( F*(*# rescue.
In his best game as an Orange, the sophomore signal caller threw for 188 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, including the game winner with about a minute remaining to help Syracuse earn a 21-17 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2013 Texas Bowl.
This marked the second straight game in which Hunt was fantastic, as he also led the Orange on a last-minute, game-wininng drive against Boston College in the regular season finale, a 34-31 victory, to help SU become bowl eligible for the first time under HCSS.
When it comes to Cheer Factor, these two stories could be higher, but, they just couldn't crack the top 5 this year.
Reguardless, the end of the 2013 football season was awesome and, hopefully, there's much more to come from Shafer and Hunt.
8) Lacrosse returns to the National Championship Game only to lose to freakin' Duke - May 27
Another lacrosse National Championship slipped through the Orange's fingers this year, as SU lost to Duke, 16-10, in the title game.
Face-off troubles led to Syracuse's downfall, however, the journey to get to the finals was exciting, as the Orange used a 5-1, fourth-quarter run in the semifinals to defeat Denver, 9-8. Luke Commetti scored the game-winning goal with 20 seconds remaining to help the top-seeded Orange advance to their first National Championship game since 2009.
Senior midfielder JoJo Marasco was the hero in the semifinals dishing our a pair of assists and scoring a goal during the run.
It must be noted that the Syracuse-Duke showdown almost did not happen, as Cornell almost pulled off the greatest comeback in college lacrosse history rallying from a 14-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. The Big Red lost, though, 15-14, as the Blue Devils scored the game winning goal with 49 seconds left.
9) Is C.J. Fair returning or forgoing his senior season -- April 10-24
We had #JamesSoutherlandWatch2013 and then we had #CJFairWatch2013. Soon after the Orange's basketball season ended with a Final Four appearance there was talks about whether or not Michael Carter-Williams was going to come back or not.
That talk lasted about 10 seconds and all the attention turned quickly to Carley Jepsen Fair, who kept us all on pins and needles for OVER TWO WEEKS! In fact, things got so serious Sean created a C.J. Fair Headband Threat Level System.
In the end, Fair decided to comeback. A move that is proving to be a good one for not only Syracuse fans but for Fair himself, as he is in the running for All-American and ACC Player of the Year honors.
10) Syracuse fans help set NCAA single-game attendance record of 35,012 -- Feb. 24
The party was ruined by Georgetown's Otto Porter going off for a game-high 33 points in a 57-46 victory over the Orange, however, it was a pretty big deal that these two were meeting at The Loud House for the last time as Big East Conference rivals. Heck, even Carmelo Anthony showed up to get his jersey retired.
Anyway, a few days later the Orange traveled to the nation capital to play in a game we would never speak of again. Luckily, only a few days after that game SU got revenge on the biggest stage of them all, Madison Square Garden, which helped propel them to a Final Four.
11) Drew Allen transfers to Syracuse not N.C. State - April 12
It may have not panned out like we thought, but when the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback decided Syracuse was the place he wanted to spend his final season as football player over Raleigh, N.C. it was a big deal.
The thought, at the time, was Allen was going to come in and take the starting quarterback job (which he actually did), fling the damn ball around like the Texas cowboy he is and help Scott Shafer lead the Orange to a bowl game.
We know what happened next.
#DrewAllenWatch2013 was a story we followed for a long time and it seemed important for Shafer, George McDonald and quarterback coach Tim Lester. Come to find out, Syracuse actually had its quarterback already on the roster.
All-in-all, thanks for picking us Drew and we hope you somewhat enjoyed your time in the Salt City.
12) Mike Hopkins Interviews With USC - March 5
The report surfaced right before the Big East Tournament, as the Los Angeles Times' Diane Pucin reported the long-time Syracuse assistant had spoking to USC about its vacant head coaching position. This story led to emergence of a TNIAAM catchphrase, "HONOR YOUR CONTRACT!" (That is a story we will not get into.)
No worries though, USC hired Florida Gulf Coast University's Andy Enfield after he and his team were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of FGCU...
Other notable stories:
-- That stupid Jim Boeheim is retiring story that that stupid website "broke" because of that STUPID Syracuse University twitter account folly.
-- Quarterback recruit Akeem Jones lying to The Post-Standard Michael Cohen about being offered and accepting a scholarship to SU.
-- Remember when former Syracuse defensive linemen Markus Pierce-Brewster and Davon Walls broke into some South Campus apartments to rob Xboxs, IPods and TVs? Oh, and the people they robbed ended up be crooks too?
-- Syracuse basketball's annual March story about the same NCAA investigation, which has been going on for awhile now. For a second, we got a bit worried at TNIAAM, but then we got snarky as Jim Boeheim dismissed the story as nothing.
-- After beating Cal in the NCAAs, reports surfaced that MCW's childhood home had burnt to the ground because of a fire.