As a program, the Syracuse Orange exist in a kind of stasis during every off-season. Because we haven't rattled off consecutive quality seasons in over a decade, everyone basically hits the reset button on us each preseason.
That's why the Orlando Sentinel can say SU will be the 96th best team in college football this season with a straight face and no one (besides us) will really notice (They put us at 92nd the year before). It's why everyone routinely sets our win expectation somewhere between four and five, regardless of last year's outcome.
And it's why while finishing fifth seems to be our ceiling in ACC Atlantic Division predictions, some folks have us finishing sixth and even seventh, behind a Boston College team that went 2-10 last year, a Maryland squad that went 4-8 and a Wake Forest team that went 5-7. We're expected to drop like a rock because, well, wasn't 2012 just an anomaly anyway? Doesn't Syracuse just always finish 4-8?
That's the thing about being, at-best, mediocre, for a long time. No one really believes you when you stop being mediocre every once in a while, that is, until you do it consistently. So despite the fact that Syracuse went 8-5 last year and beat West Virginia, we're right back to being the same three- or four-win squad everyone got used to us being.
Yes, we lost Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Shamarko Thomas and have an entirely new coaching staff. And yes, we might just regress all the way back to four wins given the turnover, our new league and our schedule. But those of us who have paid close attention to SU football over the last couple seasons know that it's not as cut and dry as the national folks see it.
How does it change? Like everything else, with wins. Syracuse has two 8-win seasons in three seasons but everyone's already forgotten about that first one. That's ancient history. By the time we get to December, the only thing anyone will remember is last year's 8-5 finish and how we followed it up. If we finish 5-7, we're right back in the suck (national-opinion-wise). If we win eight games again, we've officially started a trend. It becomes a lot harder to deny that 2013 SU is not 2007 SU.
And more important, it means how Syracuse was between 2005 and 2009 will no longer dictate how we're always perceived come preseason.