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Assigning Blame, Wherever Possible

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You know that scene in Hoosiers when Jimmy Chitwood shows up at the town meeting and tells the angry crowd that "I play, Coach stays. He goes, I go." Well today's announcement by DOCTOR Daryl Gross that Greg Robinson would be staying on as head coach of the football team kinda reminded me that scene...except that if Gross were Jimmy, the entire room would have immediately voted unanimously to remove the coach, pack both of their suitcases and send them off on the first bus to South Bend.

If I had to blame anyone for this, I'd have to go with the purveyors of GRobMustGo and Fire Greg Robinson. Neither site was able to make their case on a consistent basis and one of which doesn't even exist anymore. How can we call ourselves a legitimate college football fanbase if we can't personally attack and properly nitpick every shortcoming of our football coach? At least when it comes to our Athletic Director, it's a different story.

Regardless, Robinson is coming back for year #4. We've had a couple days to adjust to the reality that this was coming so there won't be any verbal fireworks or shock and awe display. What there will be a foreboding sense of dread all summer long, which somehow sounds even worse.

Forgetting about Greg for a second, we do have a few reasons to be intrigued, if not excited, for next season. Andrew Robinson returns a year older, a year wiser. Andrew spent most of the season resembling Eli Manning, showing flashes of brilliance alongside episodes of frustrating decision-making. Like Eli, we're salivating over Andrew's potential to throw 300+ yard/3 TDs a game but we're also weary of his inabilities, especially with a non-existent offensive line in front of him. For now, we can be optimistic for his junior year.

One of the worst offenses in the nation has nowhere to go but up and they will have a great opportunity to do so. The non-existent running game will get a boost from the return of Delone Carter as well as Curtis Brinkley and Doug Hogue. Of course, as the offensive line goes, so goes the running game.

And finally, Mike Williams will be back, ensuring that Robinson will have a fantastic target to throw to all season. The defense returns a year wiser and the special teams unit, the highlight of the 2007 squad, will be back and better.

So taking all of that in, there is reason to think 2008 is going to go better than 2007 did. The schedule is feasible but by no means easy. Including what will be a very tough Big East schedule, the Orange will face Akron, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Penn State with a 1-AA team expected to fill in the final slot. On paper, the Orange should be able to win 4-5 games, which just to happens to be the expectations we had for 2007. It's a tough pill to swallow, that this truly was a lost season, but it's a pill we're going to have to force down regardless.

The good news is that Greggers will be supplying us bloggers with plenty of content and hijinks for many months to come. Makes our jobs a little easier. And it means that
this t-shirt is still topical (and reasonably priced!)

As they usually are, ultimately DOCTOR Daryl Gross' announcement is really about...him. As The Axeman puts it, "I hope Daryl Gross is a good poker player. Because he just went all in with Greg Robinson." This year, it was Robinson whose job was on the line based on performance. By bringing him back another year, Gross has put his own job and record on the line as well.

Under his watch, the men's lacrosse team has fallen from the ranks of elite, the basketball program has stepped back and the football program has completely broken down. He's also under fire for (unnecessarily?) dropping the swimming and diving programs and botching the Paul Pasqualoni firing (and the era that ensued). When you think of Syracuse Athletics during Daryl Gross' tenure, you think of best.

By saying "I have set a bar of significant expectations for all of our programs," Gross is in effect throwing himself in the line of fire. Since none of the marquee programs are meeting these "significant expectations" and Greg Robinson's hiring was Gross' major footprint of the program, their fates are tied together. More so next year than ever before.

If Syracuse goes 2-10 again, it's a foregone conclusion that Robinson will be fired. But it's not hard to believe that Gross may be shown the door as well. Especially if SU basketball and lacrosse don't return to form in the meantime.

Gross refused to assign a win number as the goal Greg Robinson needs to meet.

"I've seen teams with a lot of wins that weren't very good and I've seen teams that I say, this team is close to exploding. I don't like to get into a number of wins. I look for progress."

Gross is smart enough to keep things as abstract as possible. He'd basically be assigning a minimum goal to his own employment as well.

Thankfully, basketball season is here and we can start to put this season behind us. Couple things do remain to be seen. Will Robinson shake up his staff? What does Jim Boeheim have to say about things (if anything)? Will Mini-KISS be back as well?
The answer at the moment to all of those questions is one you're probably very familiar with and one you better get used to hearing again next season...I don't know.

For the full breadth of reactions around the weboblogosphere...

Donnie Webb
The Axeman
Giving 111 Percent
First And Ten Sports