Imagine for a moment if I posed the following question to you, "Who are the most insufferable and least self-aware college football fanbases in the nation?"
My guess is that you'd probably start with Rutgers and their NYC Media Market dreams and Middle Three Conference championship claims. Perhaps you'd move down the coast and throw Maryland a.k.a. "Oregon of the East in the Making" in the mix. Clemson can back up their talk with wins but God forbid you say anything resembling a taunt. You could probably talk my ear off with tales of Big Ten and SEC programs with fans so insufferable you've worn out the block button on Twitter trying to avoid them.
Here's a question for that question...what if it's us? We, Syracuse Orange football fans. Are we insufferable? Are we lacking on the self-awareness scale? Do we not get it?
I hadn't really thought so. Still don't, really. I know we have our wackos, big talkers and homers, just like every fanbase, but are we as annoying and deluded as we think some of those other fanbases are?
I ask because this week's Shutdown Fullback podcast opens with a discussion about the most and least self-aware fanbases and, before the topic is even introduced, Syracuse gets absolutely firebombed. Of course, I blame "Syracused" for even lobbing a question such as, "Why do you hate Syracuse?" into this battlefield. You couldn't have set up what was to come more perfectly.
"There are two types of fanbases. There are those who are self-aware and there are those who aren't and Syracuse falls firmly in the latter of being entirely unaware of their actual position in college football."
"Any sort of a list...if it's "here are ten teams who are maybe gonna win the title,"...within seconds, "Why isn't Syracuse on this list?"
Now, I'm not here to get into a flame war with Spencer and Jason, whom I love and adore like step-brothers I have never actually met but have tweeted with on occasion over the years, and please don't start one on our behalf because by doing so you'll just be proving their point.
But...man, I can't believe that second quote. Seriously? Are you guys doing that?
Don't do that.
I say "perception is reality" so often, I worry it loses it's meaning but this is one of those cases where I really think it's a good reminder for SU fans. Yes, we are a better football program that the one these guys gleefully recount from the mid-2000's. But...we are also the program that the nation watched lose 56-0 to Georgia Tech. We're the program that loses every time we play on national television at MetLife Stadium. We're the program that got obliterated by FSU and Clemson last season for all the world to see.
We are better than that on the whole, but, those are the things that everyone remembers.
Couple that Georgia Tech suckfest with Scott Shafer's not-forgotten comments about Atlanta and, well, I guess I'm not that surprised to find out Atlantans have a negative view of Syracuse Football.
After ruminating on the comments for a little bit, I've come to a couple conclusions.
1. Everyone takes things too seriously when it comes to "your thing." Atlantans took Scott Shafer's "softnosed" comment way too seriously because it was a jab at a very vulnerable time. And the same applies here. Syracuse fans are offended by comments like these because we're still grappling with the truths behind some of them.
Point is, if we make fun of some guy on the street who trips and spills his coffee, everyone can have a good laugh and it doesn't mean anything. But when you're the guy who trips and spills his coffee and you're feeling like a dummy, it's not that funny to you. It's hard to be able to step back and just laugh with everyone else because it's not something worth taking seriously.
2. I want to see hard data. I just can't believe that Syracuse fans stand out more than fans from other programs that come to mind when it comes to "WHAT ABOUT US???"-type comments. Unless our worst fans are somehow the most vocal ones (which sometimes happens), I just have a really hard time buying it.
3. Syracuse Basketball fans, however, probably are as insufferable as they're positing. I have a feeling we're more hated as a basketball fanbase that we possibly understand. And I wonder if there's a bit of crossover here.
4. I think, for the most part, we do get our place in college football. We don't expect to win the National Championship anytime soon. We don't expect to win the ACC anytime soon. We know there are games we won't win and there are games that could go 50/50. Maybe we get a little cocky and call for 9-win seasons every once in a while but that's only because we like to think the 2000's were the anomaly, not the norm. That the 1980s and 1990s were the standard by which SU football should be measured and a place we think we can get back to again.
So do me a favor. If you want to make Syracuse fans look good, don't do anything. Don't post a comment railing Spencer & Jason. Don't blast them on Twitter. Don't be the Syracuse fan that has unfortunately come to represent us. Just go about your rooting business safe.
And then when we beat Clemson, we can earn the title of Most Insufferable Fanbase Alive with delight.