Here's the good news.
Syracuse Football is going to be a primetime program this season. Four games are schedule for either an ESPN network or FSN/FX, and one is schedule for ESPN3.com. And if the season goes well, more are sure to be added.
Here's the crux.
Three of Syracuse's home games will be played during the week. A Thursday night game and two Friday night games. That leaves three home games (Rhode Island, Toledo & Cincinnati) as the only Saturday home games in 2011.
Here's the rub.
We already know that Syracuse wants to play games consistently in the eye of New York City, and that means our best non-conference opponents will likely want to do the same. As Syracuse grows in prominence and begins to take advantage of these Thursday/Friday night opportunities, all of this means one very important group of people might take the hit...Syracuse fans who live 2-4 hours away.
DOC Gross is mega-excited about the Thursday night announcement, but a quick glance around the message boards and comments shows a very different sentiment. Cuse fans in Buffalo, Binghamton, Albany and other not-so-far-but-not-that-close just watched a very easy Saturday day trip to the game get snatched away and replaced with a tough-to-pull-off worknight trip that's annoying, inconvenient and a pain in the ass.
If this is the future of Syracuse football, and there's strong indication to think it will be, is this group of ticket-buying fans officially screwed?
Look at 2011 alone. If you live 2-3 hours away from Cuse and you've got a fulltime job, chances are you can't make the Wake Forest, WVU or USF games. That leaves you with Rhode Island, Toledo and Cincy. A FCS opponent, our worst non-conference opponent and the Big East opponent you care the least about. That kinds sucks.
"Suck it up and head up there Thursday and Friday, you wuss!" I guess. Easier said than done when you've got a family, a job and other responsibilities. Put all of those games on Saturday and I agree with you. As-is...not so much.
The question for SU Athletics becomes...does the end justify the means? Is it more important for folks in Oklahoma to watch Syracuse football than it is for people in Schenectady to attend the games? There's merit to making SU games more national and perhaps a little sacrifice is in order. But if every season is going to look like this, where local Orange fans get the scraps left over while the best games are played at inconvenient times...don't be shocked when attendance doesn't meet your expectations.