Syracuse University hates non-Syracuse people.
Okay, that's a little Kanye, a little dated and severely dramatic, I know, but Friday night games are a lot of work for fans having to drive an hour or more to get to the Carrier Dome. I also know I've talked and written about this far too often. But be it Watertown or Albany or any other point in any direction, late night weekday games (even ones scheduled for Friday evening) are difficult to attend -- and forget about tailgating.
Yup, television and the possibility of being seen out weighs butts in seats. And you can't schedule fairly for everyone, so home-town fans should get the benefit more often than not. I get all of that, but it still doesn't make things easier.
Actually, for a lot of fans, game one of 2014, being on a Friday, is one of those "Okay, what time do I leave work" type of games with the opponent being... Villanova. FCS? Bah. It's Labor Day weekend for a lot of us but that doesn't mean all of us leave work early that Friday.
So I decided to do a little research -- thank you, Google -- to see just how season-starting contests usually turn out for Syracuse anyway. Are they even worth attending, regardless of opponent? I mean, I've been to several, I've watched for years, it seems like SU usually starts a season below .500, right? Well, as it turns out, yes that is correct.
Since 1990, a time span that includes five coaches (!) for the program, Syracuse has 10 wins compared to 14 losses in its season debuts. Going back to 2000, the Orange men have a paltry 4-10 record in games one of seasons -- a record tarnished greatly by one Greg Robinson (zero Ws in four openers). Regardless though, those numbers are pretty bleak.
Maybe the point really is: Syracuse University hates the start to the football season!
Of course, going back 24 years, Syracuse hasn't exactly opened with too many easily-defeated cupcakes, either. In terms of star power, the Orange played only six schools from non-power conferences (including BYU), going 5-1 in those contests. So while the Orange lose more than win the openers, at least it's against an opponent of some note.
Still, winning game one does seem important, as there is a type of corollary to how the team will finish. Syracuse, since '90, averages just over seven wins a season when starting out with a victory, as opposed to just over five Ws when met with a loss in the first game. Take from that what you will, but it does seem, especially with only twelve games to choose from, there's something to be gained by not screwing up out of the gate.
Which takes us back to Villanova.
Yes, it's a team predicted to finish second in its league, but it is also a team from a lesser level of collegiate football. A program with worse facilities than Syracuse (I assume, anyway) and with fewer scholarships to offer. In other words: Syracuse should win game one. Kind of rare, right? And a victory August 29, history says, should lead to a presumed bowl berth.
While I still don't care for the date of the game, if there is such a thing as scheduling a win, well, especially for a program trying to perpetually fight back as Syracuse, then I guess you have to do what you have to do. Even if it's a game that will likely attract fewer than 35,000 Orange fans, a win that early is too valuable to pass up.
Maybe this slap in the face will prove better than the usual kick in the butt for the out-of-town fans who will be in attendance come next month. Maybe it will be worth taking off a few hours from work early that final Friday in August to actually see the home team happy after the final horn sounds of the first game?
The assumption being, of course, Syracuse actually wins its debut this time.
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