I actually had to look at last year's football game weeks in order to remember the kinds of posts we do here each week before a Syracuse Orange football game.
That's how out of it I've been. That's how removed I've been from the world of sports. That's how long I've been waiting for football to return.
I've documented this before but as I've gotten older, my sporting interests have dwindled. As a kid, I could watch baseball and hockey with the same enthusiasm as college basketball or the NFL. As I've gotten older, a lot of those sports have fallen by the wayside. I check in to see who's winning, who's losing and how terrible the Mets are doing (Answer: Could be worse...). But at the end of the day, college football is king in my world.
And my day is nigh.
It's crazy to think that, before 1996, Syracuse football was just a thing that existed in the background for me. I would spy a Syracuse game on TV every so often. The Dome looked so strange from my living room. The colors of the game were off. Artificial. I don't think it ever even occurred to me that I'd one day care about what happened under the teflon-coated roof until I decided to apply there.
And then, just like that, as I hustled to find my seat before the '96 season-opener against North Carolina, I was hooked. Not exactly the smartest move I've ever made, given the Coach P disappointments and The Four Years That Never Happened Nope ahead, but how was I supposed to know? How were any of us?
I like to think that we had to go through The Four Years That Never Happened Nope in order to get to Doug Marrone The Rebulder. And even if Marrone was gone way sooner than we expected, he laid a foundation for Scott Shafer The Hardnosed to step in and return us to consistent respectability.
I often wonder if that's the best we can hope for around here. Consistent respectability. As if nine wins is the high mark we should strive for and anything beyond that is absurd. We're Syracuse, after all. Know your role.
Except, I've been at this college football long enough to know weird things happen. Often. When I was a kid, schools like Nebraska, Washington and Miami dominated the landscape. Now they're also-rans. Oregon was some crappy program no one ever actually saw play. Boise State? What the hell state is that?
Things change. Sometimes macro. Sometimes micro. You're chugging along with everything fine and normal and then all of a sudden Wake Forest wins the ACC or Duke wins ten games.
The point is, every season is full of surprises, wonder, shocks, horrors and the unknown. People can make their predictions and make their assumptions. Often they're right. Sometimes they're wrong. Either way, no one really knows what's going to happen and what's going to matter come December.
Maybe this is another season in the 5-7 win range for Syracuse. The odds say it is. But the beauty of the days before the first game of Fall is that we can hope for something more. Sometimes, every once in a while, we're rewarded for that hope.
Let's hope this is one of those. G'Orange.