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Syracuse Football: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

It's easy to look at the last 15 years of Syracuse Football and see a lost cause. However, the truth isn't so simple and the reality is that the future is not beholden to the past.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Note - I am a words guy and I am definitely not a math guy. So don't rake me over the coals if I'm not using that statistical phrase in the title 100% correctly. You know what I mean, jerk.

Syracuse Orange football is bad. The proof? Because it's been bad.

That seems to be the gist of what I'm hearing from a lot of folks and I mostly can't argue it. If college football fandom is a study in the short-term, then the national perspective on a regional college football team is boiled down even more to it's essences.

Syracuse's recent eight-win seasons and three bowl victories have been gobbled up by all of the misery and bad nationally-televised games that came before and after them. They cease to exist in the big picture that is Syracuse Football.

SU certainly doesn't do itself any favors in this department either.

So I'm not surprised to hear Pete Thamel say Syracuse is the worst job in the ACC or that others think SU is a middle-of-the-road job at best. Even Don McPherson is once again talking about how there is a much lower ceiling on Syracuse's potential than most of us care to appreciate.

But Don also played for an undefeated team while at Syracuse. I know, that was a long time ago and the college football landscape has changed drastically in the years since. But for those Orange fans who were here in 1987 and for those of us that were here in the late 90's, we know there's a fine line between realistic expectations and "correlation implies causation."

"Syracuse Football has been mostly terrible since 2000. Therefore, Syracuse Football will always be terrible."

I'm sorry but that's bullshit. And I can give you plenty of reasons why it's bullshit.

Northwestern. Boston College. Baylor. Duke. Temple. Rutgers. Memphis.

Every one of these football programs faced challenges that once made it seem improbable they'd ever succeed again in college football. Some are private schools in Syracuse's boat. Some have stringent academic standards. Some were just flat-out awful for long periods of time.

Not all of them are doing well right this second but all of them have had great seasons and turnarounds peppered throughout their recent history. Sometimes it just took the right coach. Other times it was a drawn-out process of recruiting and financial support. Other times it was dumb luck and scheduling.

I'm not saying Syracuse should win ten games every season, but anyone who will tell you it's out of the realm of possibility for Syracuse to be the kind of football program that goes to a bowl game four out of every five years is either naive or dumb.

Not to mention that college football is literally fixed to make it as easy as possible for a P5 school to make it to a bowl game. If you can't get to 6-6, you're doing something wrong.

If you make smart decisions, the wins will follow. If you schedule smart, you will win more games. If you hire the right coach, you will win more games. If you recruit more talent, you will win more games. And it doesn't matter if the name on the jersey reads Panthers or Tigers or Lions or Orange...if you do smart things, you can win more often than you lose.

Winning at Syracuse isn't easy. But it's not a Herculean task either. It only seems that way.