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The Year That Was, Was Pretty Good

If you're the type of person who's "year" lasts from September to May, this year has been pretty good.


A year can be arbitrary. It can be fuzzy, as in "around" a year ago.

Take for example, when I was younger, I always considered Survivor Series to be the kick start to the WWF "year." Back then there were only four pay-per-view events and, to me, it went Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and ending with Summer Slam. (luckily for me I fell out of the wrestling phase before the endless PPVs, video games, etc, came along in the mid to late 90's)

The same logic applies to sports, especially for the Syracuse sports calender. September starts it off with football, basketball takes us through March/April, and lacrosse gets us all the way to the doorstep of Summer. Thus ending the "year."

And while we have a few more weeks left until the end of the year, it hit me the other day just how good it has been for the Orange sports fan.

It all started with Syracuse football reversing its five game losing streak to end 2011 by winning 8 games, sharing the Big East crown, and winning its second bowl game in three years. Sure the season started rough for the Orange, losing three of the first four games, but things changed for the better.

A surprise, albeit ugly, win over Pittsburgh, a beat-down of Paul Pasqualoni and Connecticut, a subsequent beat-down of nationally ranked Louisville, and even a victory in SEC country (we can call it that, right?) over Missouri. Sure Syracuse was never ranked, mostly forgotten about nationally, but as far as football goes in Central New York, it was a good year.

Even the recent National Football League draft buzz surrounding Ryan Nassib was something of a breathe of fresh air for Syracuse football. In years past, Orange fans wouldn't need to pay attention until the later rounds. OK, so Nassib, and Shamarko Thomas, both ended up going Saturday and not Thursday, but Nassib's name was in the discussion from day one, and therefore Syracuse was in the discussion as well.

But back when football was winding down its unexpected turnaround, concluding with another bowl victory, Syracuse basketball opened its season on a boat in California by drubbing a decent San Diego State team. Rough patches ensued, including another player suspension and a total nosedive at the end of the regular season, but I think most fans will remember the run in the Garden and the shocking drive to Atlanta and the Final Four.

(Plus, let's not forget the SU women who made it back to the NCAA tournament after a year spent ranked among the nations top 25. Hell, Kayla Alexander wound up being the No. 8 pick in the WNBA draft! For anyone who knows even a little bit about the history of the Syracuse women's program, that's an unbelievable accomplishment. Quentin Hillsman has the Orange women going in the right direction.)

2011-12, even though ending in the Elite Eight and not the Final Four, was probably a better overall year for SU hoops, but the Trump Card of all Trump Cards is Final Four -- and that's where 2012-13 ended. Of course, Syracuse could have beaten Michigan, even pulling within in one point late, and Louisville, who would have been the national championship game opponent for Jim Boeheim's team, was more than beatable. But the Final Four is the Final Four.

A destination that is now a very real possibility for Syracuse lacrosse -- for both men's and women's teams. But focusing on the Orange men; Syracuse wasn't supposed to be Syracuse this season. More transition, more youth, and another tough schedule had most people thinking the NCAA playoffs could come and go without the school with 11 titles.

Instead, the Orange have beaten the No 6, No. 4, No. 2, and No. 1 ranked teams this year. Yes, Syracuse did lose to Hobart at home and No. 6 (Virginia) and No. 4 (Johns Hopkins) both ended up not being very good. But that shouldn't discount just how good/exciting/heart-stopping Syracuse has been, and don't forget, its a team that needed to win the Big East tournament just to qualify for the playoffs last year.

And what a difference a year can make.

Then we had Bernie Fine and "scandal" after "scandal," or at least it seemed that way. Wins and losses, but some tough times.

Now, while Doug Marrone has moved on (which could still prove to derail the good times with Syracuse football) and the NCAA isn't quite done investigating Syracuse basketball (which could bring the house down -- although word is the investigation won't yield any major results), things have been mostly quiet -- at least as quiet as Syracuse sports can get.

And when we're all left with on-field and on-court memories as opposed to the other kind lasting impressions, well, I think that's a good year in Syracuse.