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Retiring Syracuse Football Jerseys: Who Makes The Cut?

We know Carmelo is getting number retired...again...we think.  And that raises all sorts of questions of course.  Does he deserve it for one year of work and a very big donation?  Brent Axe says its a no-brainer but only after the many great Orange who came before him get their nod.  When I originally discussed the issue in 2007, I didn't think Carmelo's case warranted it but that was before The Melo Center.  That donation made Anthony a bigger part of our community and qualified him (as outlined in How To Grow An Orange...but you already knew that). 

In the middle of discussion, however, is a related-yet-unrelated topic that Syracuse fans never seem to discuss.  What ever happened to retiring Syracuse football player jerseys?  Brent Axe kills it in his article today, explaining how we honor the #44 Trio out the wazoo but don't really do much to honor the other great SU footballers...and there are many.

You know what...why DON'T we have a Ring of Honor?  You'd think that would right up DOC Gross' alley.  Hell, even a Room of Honor in the back of Dome would suffice.

All of that said, I think if we're talking about who deserves the nod and who doesn't, we have to draw the line and we have to draw line high.  The great thing about starting a Ring of Honor now is that we can set our standards impossibly high and then worry about it later. Like I always say, it's called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Great (which is what the MLB and NFL Hall of Fames have become). 

So let's pretend that we're starting a Ring of Honor for Syracuse football.  Who's in?  Who just misses the cut?  Who's not even really up for discussion?  Let's find out.

We'll start with the older generations and the "no duh" placements that are in. Anything pre-Syracuse Common Era (1985 - Present).  Ben Schwartzwalder, Dick MacPherson, Vic Hansen, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Larry Csonka, Joe Morris, Art Monk.  Good?  Good. (I'm sure I forgot a bunch of guys and I'm sure you'll remind me but the fact that didn't come right to my mind speaks volumes as to whether or not they should be involved).  On to the rest.


Paul Pasqualoni - Wow...what a toughie right off the bat.  I mean, on paper it's not a toughie.  He is by all statistical accounts the 2nd-best coach in Syracuse history, moreso than Coach Mac.  But whereas Coach Mac is beloved, Coach P is...though less-of.  He and the SU community didn't exactly see eye-to-eye most of the time and his departure still brings up a lot of animosity on both sides of the argument.  I feel like we kinda have to let him in eventually...but I'd wait a few years, at least until SU is good again and we can all focus on that.

Don McPherson - The closest thing to a Syracuse Hesiman Trophy winner since Ernie Davis, he also won a ton of QB awards, led the unbeaten 1987 team and helped establish Syracuse as a home for good QBs in the years to come.  He's been an unstanding citizen and friend to the community in years since.  I think he's a no-brainer.

Dan Conley - I mean, he was beloved for SU and he's beloved now as a coach but is he Ring-worthy?  My gut says no.  For now.  Hate me if you must.

Marvin Graves - I tell you what, my instinct was to say no to Graves.  I just didn't feel like he stood out enough compared to his counterparts.  Then I looked at his stats.  Do you realize it's Marvin and not Donovan McNabb that holds the SU record for passing yards in a season?  He's also the only QB of The Big Three (McP, Graves & McNabb) to be in the Top 4 in passing yards twice. He's still in the top ten of every notable SU QB statistic.  Surprisingly, I say yes.

Donovan McNabb - This isn't even realy up for discussion, is it?  He's in.

Marvin Harrison - Ohhhhh, that's a toughie, isn't it?  I mean on paper, no question about it.  But how much do you take into consideration the whole "he probably shot a guy who eventually died mysteriously" thing?  Again, I think this is one you postpone for a few years.  At least until we know what we're dealing with here.

Walter Reyes - Yes.  Yes.  Yes. Oh my God Yes.

Damien Rhodes - Just doesn't pass the sniff test.  Great player, but not THAT great.

Troy Nunes - Obviously, yes*

Keith Bulluck - Here's a guy who was really, really good with SU but he didn't truly blossom until he became a pro (at least in my opinion).  I feel like he's on the fence and for the moment I'm going to say no, though I think he's a good bet for the veterans' committee. 

Dwight Freeney - SU doesn't have a lot of defensive players up there...Freeney's about as sure a thing as we've got.  Especially in recent history. He's in.

*By which I mean "no."

Greg Paulus - If it were up to Doug Marrone, in a heartbeat.  For the rest of us...uh, no.

Mike Williams - He should have been a yes but he's a resounding no.

Alright, who'd I forget?