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SU Football: It's Back, Baby! Right?

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It's been a while since Syracuse was ranked in football. Like, a really long time. Does it matter?

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Is Syracuse football back?

You've been asked that question, you've asked that question and I'm know you've thought about that question. Three bowl wins in the last four seasons after all the losing, so much losing, has everyone wondering if things will actually stay...better. The last four years have produced 25 wins for a program that had just 10 victories between 2005 and 2008! Plus, actual real honest-to-goodness recruiting news has become habitual around these parts.

But does that define "back"?

Personally, I'm tired of this debate. I've said and written for years that SU should be a consistent eight win team with the occasional down years and the every-so-often 10 (or more) win season. That's about where things stand now, isn't it? Being in bowl contention the last handful of seasons. Obviously that doesn't mean everything is great. Hell, I could see Shafer's team producing one of those "off-seasons" in 2014. But overall I think this is a pretty good time for Orange fans, "back" or not.

Still, I was shocked by the answer to a question I was randomly asked the other day: When is the last time SU was ranked by the Associated Press. "The last time? That must have been...2004? Maybe the Orange 'received some votes' in '10 or '12?"

Nope.  Try week 8 of 2003 as the last time SU was even mentioned in the AP rankings according to my fairly cursory research. That's over a 120 months ago -- and even then, Syracuse appeared in the "other's receiving votes" section. (Ed. Note: As pointed out in the comments section, Syracuse did find itself in the "others receiving votes one other time, in 2011 -- before promptly losing every game left on the schedule that season.) I mean, think of what has happened in your life since the fall of 2003? A lot of stuff, right? I know, me too! Geez, SU has had four different football coaches in that span alone, not to mention a few chancellors and a new athletics director.

What does this all mean then? Big picture: I have no clue -- nor does anyone else. But at the least it sounds bad, and at the most it makes me wonder just when things really will be "back," if that's even truly possible given the changing landscape of college football.

But then there's this:

While I don't totally agree with this premise, as I see Syracuse as one of those top-20 to other's receiving votes type of program, SU hasn't been ranked in any of the recent bowl-winning seasons and I still consider them successful. So, does the lack of being included by pollsters even matter, is it really as surprising as I find it?

Yeah, that's my thinking here too. Although, I remain stunned at Syracuse's zero votes whatsoever since 2003!

Right?! There have been valleys, a lot of valleys, when it comes to Syracuse football, sure, but this drop off the rankings planet seems more like a canyon.

Sounds harsh, but then look at attendance numbers and it's easy to spot the corollaries between winning, being ranked and crowds actually showing up. You don't have to beat the world but you do have to at least win more than you lose.

Another byproduct of winning: Better players want to play for your team.

Wins beget a lot of frills for programs, no doubt.

Overall, though, being "back" for Syracuse is really ever evolving. It's kind of like that person who lost a ton of weight but is always exercising because they're never satisfied, always seeing the flab where muscle now resides -- I believe the kids call it, "rising and grinding."

Even during the supposed "good" years, Syracuse had inexplicable losses and non-bowl years sandwiched in there (valleys). Being ranked will eventually happen like it used to so long as the work continues.

Then again...

Wait. Who's wondering about top-10? And why can't Syracuse University have three good to great major programs? SU seemed to have it that way in the 80's and 90's, for the most part.

Huh. Welp, moving on.

Listen, freakin' Boston College has seen its name appear in that tiny aggregate several times since SU last was ranked! The Orange should be able to at least get back to cracking the rankings if the Eagles can do it every few years. Now that's really not too much to ask.

(In honor of Father's Day, I'm also linking a column from a couple of weeks ago in which I write openly about my dad's meaning to me and his untimely death. If you're so inclined, give it a click. I miss him so very much.)