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Things Could Be Worse, It Could Be 1981

Orange44 made a sobering point the other day:

It is increasingly frustrating to even think about this squad and its possibilities. Frankly, a loss Friday to Albany would put a nice, solid stamp on this year in Syracuse athletics:

1. A four-win football campaign;

2. The worst tournament snub in NCAA basketball history; and

3. The first season Syracuse has not been invited the men's lacrosse championship tournament since 1982.

Call it the Curse of Daryl Gross if you like, but times are bad. That got me this the worst season for Syracuse athletics in a long time? Where does it rank?

Using the same techniques I used in my Most Blessed Class In Terms Of Athletic Accomplishments (just rolls off the tongue), I decided to look at the Orange since 1980 and see what years were the worst, and which were the best, to be a student at SU when it came to athletic accomplishments.

I decided to break down each season into the three major sports and assign each accomplishment a point value. Each poi
nt value was an attempt at their realistic affect on the excitement and happiness of the SU students and fans:


play in bowl game - 1 point

play in "top-tier" bowl game - 1 point (plus the original point for making a bowl)

bowl victory - 1 point


make the NCAA tournament - 1 point
final four - 2 points

national champion - 3 points

final four - 1 point
national champion - 1 point

Here's what I learned:

The five worst years to attend Syracuse University since 1980:

5. 2000-2001 (2 points)
The football team went 6-6, the first time they didn't have a winning record since 1986. The basketball team went a respectable 25-9 but lost in the 2nd round to Kansas (enjoy it, Jayhawks, we'll get it back...). The lacrosse team made it to the championship but lost to bitter rival Princeton.

4. 1983-1984 (2 points)
news, the football team had a winning record. Alas, it was 6-5 and they didn't go bowling. The basketball team put in a pretty solid year at 23-9 but crapped out in the 2nd round of the tourney to Virginia. Only the lacrosse team provided some post-season excitement, advancing to the national championship before losing to Johns Hopkins.

3. 1980-1981 (0 points)
Somewhat similar to this season. The football team was a mediocre 5-6 and the lacrosse team's run of consecutive Final Fours was still a few years away. Thebasketball team didn't do all that badly (22-12) but found themselves in the NIT no
netheless. They did make it to the NIT finals but that doesn't get you much. This class did get to see the unveiling of the brand-spanking new Carrier Dome that at least there's that.

2. 2006-2007* (0 points)
ssuming the lacrosse team does not make the NCAA tournament, we are looking at the 2nd worst SU athletics season since 1980. The football team was an anemic 4-8 and the basketball team, although better than the NIT bid the received, still disappointed.

1. 1981-1982 (0 points)
The football team following their 5-6 season up with a 4-6-1, the basketball team had their worst overall season in this timeframe at 16-13 and the lacrosse team saw no postseason. Yep, this has to be the worst season of them all.

Now, just to prove we're not all doom and gloom in these parts, here's the three best years for SU sports:

3. 1995-1996
(6 points)
The football team crushes Clemson in the Gator Bowl and wins nice-looking windbreakers that they then wear around campus for the next four years. The basketball team makes an unheralded run to the finals before losing in a solid performance. The lacrosse team goes to the Final Four...ho-hum.

2. 2002-2003 (6 points)
The football team throws in a 4-8 pe
rformance and the lacrosse team gets to the Final Four but no closer. But its all about the basketball team, which rides Carmelo, Gerry and Hakim to the national title and sets off a celebration the likes of which had never been seen in Salt City.

1. 1987-1988
(7 points)
The football team's amazing 10-0-1 season is capped off in the soul-crushing Sugar Bowl tie. The basketball team wins the Big East but loses in the 2nd round of the tourney. Thankfully, the lacrosse teams pulls through and wins a national title. Trophies all around!

While I had this "hard to discount, irrevocable data", I decided to look around and see what else I could find. Even drew myself up a purty picture to illustrate.

The worst classes when it comes to sports are:

1980-1984 (5 points t
1981-1985 (8 points total)

2003-2007* (9 points total)

1982-1986 (12 points total)

The best classes while at Syracuse were:

1986-1990 (21 points total)

1987-1991 (21 points total)

1984-1988 (20 points total)

1985-1989 (20 points total)

Clearly, the late 80's was the best time to be on the hill.

Surprisingly, the 2003 basketball national championship only moves 2003 into the "above-average" category, weighted down because the football team stunk and the lacrosse team didn't win a title. The basketball team had to carry the entire year on its back.