Thursday was quite the day for Syracuse Orange football.
First, we got news that the Orange would indeed be playing the Wisconsin Badgers in 2020 and 2021, a decision that some liked, some didn't like and left everyone feeling as though the other side weren't "real Syracuse fans."
Second, a flurry of 2015 season predictions included a 2-10 guess by Fox Sport's Stewart Mandel. A cadre of 'Cuse fans made sure to let him know how they felt about it.
Of all things I did not expect to be hearing from angry Syracuse fans on the ACC picks.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 13, 2015
Now, I'm not a scientist but based what I could see on Twitter and using my own judgment, I have a feeling that the Syracuse fans who went full bore after Mandel for his low expectations were also some of the same fans happy with the news that SU would continue to schedule schools like Wisconsin over easier fare.
I'm here to tell you why, if you like the idea of Syracuse continuing to schedule beyond it's means, then you give up the right to complain about the national perception of Syracuse Football. Here's why...
1. National pundits & writers notoriously focus on the squeaky wheels. They spend a good chunk of their time watching and dissecting the nationally-relevant teams. This makes sense. Why spend a day breaking down Syracuse when you could be breaking down Alabama? Alabama is going to be talked about all season on radio shows and halftime shows, Syracuse is not. If you screw up while talking about the Orange, a handful of people will care. If you screw up while talking about Alabama, you're trending on Twitter.
2. For teams like Syracuse, these national folks rely on perception as well as what they've actually seen with their eyeballs. As you might imagine, Syracuse's national perception is not good. The Greg Robinson Era still haunts us and has embedded a sense of awfulness in the minds of every non-Syracuse Football fan when they think of us. Yes we've done well since, but our lack of continued momentum and our overall mediocrity even when we've been good does nothing to change the perception. It's up to the real world results to change that.
3. Unfortunately for us, the games that these folks get a chance to watch Syracuse play in are usually the games on ESPN/ABC against top-tier opponents. Florida State. Clemson. Notre Dame. Penn State. USC. LSU this year. These are the games that are easy to find (unlike, say, Central Michigan, which will probably be buried on ESPN3). A quick look at those opponents will tell you that Syracuse not only lost most of those games but they often got blown out as well.
4. Therefore, what guys like Mandel see with their own eyes confirms the perception that Syracuse Football is still terrible. Since they don't dig deep enough to find out about injuries and other issues that might have affected last season, they rely on what they see, what the stats tell them and what they perceive.
5. Ergo, concordantly, vis-a-vis, guys like Mandel can look at Syracuse headed into the 2015 season and make a 2-10 prediction that 97% of the college football fans across America will not bat an eyelash at.
How does Syracuse get out of this perception black hole?
Win football games. That's it. Easy enough, right? Unless you add Oregon to the 2017 schedule, that is.*
*Dear Mark Coyle, that was a joke. Please don't add Oregon to the 2017 schedule, or any schedule for that matter.