In all the seasons since leaving Texas to become the head coach of the Syracuse Orange football program, Greg Robinson or Greggers or GERG or whatever expletive you remember him as never went out a winner.
People remember him leading the Orange to victory over Notre Dame but they forget that the team got drubbed by Cincinnati the following weekend to end his tenure. He went to one bowl game in his next gig as the defensive coordinator of the Michigan Wolverines but they lost. Texas went 8-5 in his one season back with them but they lost in the Alamo Bowl. His first season as the DC of the San Jose State Spartans ended with a bowl-eligible record but the team wasn't invited to any. This season, despite finishing the regular season 5-7, the Spartans were invited to the Cure Bowl and Robinson announced beforehand that he would be retiring afterward.
The Spartans won that game Saturday night, sending GERG out as a winner in the end. The fact that Robinson's career ends with a bowl game won by a team with a losing record is not an irony lost on Orange fans.
The lasting image of the game is Greg Robinson himself dancing in the middle of a Spartan mosh pit following the win.
It was a reminder that, for all the bad feelings just mentioning his name might instill in Syracuse fans (and Michigan fans for that matter), Robinson was almost-always adored by his players. There's a reason his guys stood by his side to the bitter end, some even heading towards critics in the stands to defend him.
I'm not here to defend Greg Robinson The Syracuse Coach. Lord knows I've spilled enough e-ink over his failures here and history bears out that he simply was never cut out to be the head coach of a major program. This site was created in the heart of the Greg Robinson Era so we remember how bad things were. At least the last two SU seasons featured competitive teams. We would have killed for that back then.
But behind the Gregisms and Little Engine That Could jokes, I have to admit I did have a soft spot for He Who We Did Not Name For A Very Long Time. I think it's because if you strip away the history and the connotations, he just seems like a really, nice guy. I've said often I'd be totally cool with GERG as my uncle. He seems affable. Genuine. Nice.
Those aren't the kind of qualities that usually win football games. But that doesn't make them, or him, less valid.
I've also said that, like Scott Shafer, I can't imagine how bad it must feel to reach your career goal and fail. To spend your entire adult life striving towards something, finally attain it and see it all come crashing down while your peers succeed (or at least I'm sure that's how it must seem). That's some serious existential shit right there that you're forced to deal with. You could easily go crawl in a hole and never emerge again. Instead, Greggers went out there and went back to work.
Again, no delusions about whitewashing the era of Syracuse Football between 2005 and 2008. It's an era we're still recovering from. The weird thing about sports is that we measure you based on the cold, hard stat sheet. Did you win or did you lose? Nothing else really matters. But if you're willing to look past that, you can't deny that Greg Robinson tried. He really did. He really was the Little Engine That Could. He just couldn't.
So I applaud Greg for going out a winner in a bowl game. I'm glad he found some modicum of success and recompense for the last decade.
Syracuse Football moves on and hopefully Dino Babers will help us to forget the Greg Robinson Era once and for all. But we will never forget Greg Robinson, for many reasons, statistical or not.