I think we use hyperbole and symbolism and things of that nature like a crutch in our society. We say the team that "wanted it more" won and we love to talk about "when men were men."
That said, I do believe in "culture." I think it's a tangible thing that you can find in corporations, homes and sports teams even if they're not doing so consciously.
It's not always there. Sometimes people are the way they are because that's the way they are. "Bad apples," as it were. Outliers who represent themselves more than they represent the whole.
But I do think that a culture is an inevitable result inside an entity over time. And I firmly believe that the culture is determined by those in charge and seeps down to everyone under them. They may not even know they're participating in it but that's probably because it feels like "this is the right way to do things" even if it's not.
Syracuse Athletics under DOC Gross was a Big Picture culture. It was New York City billboards and flashy uniforms and MetLife Stadium games and New York's College Team.
That's all well and good and there's value in those ideas but the problem is that oftentimes a Big Picture culture forgets about The Little Things.
You know, like spelling names correctly on jerseys, corporate logos on statues and shoddily-planned celebrations. The infamous Joe Giansante quote, "It was not something that...you'd think would need to be looked at beforehand" summed up the culture of SU Athletics for the last decade. The same culture that gave us a bevy of NCAA violations that should have been easily-avoided.
Gross is gone and Mark Coyle is here now. I can't say for sure that Coyle has really put his stamp on SU Athletics yet but if he had anything to do with the way Orange Fan Fest came together on Saturday, it is a very encouraging sign.
In the grand scheme of things, a well-done Fan Fest is not the kind of thing that makes headlines. It's not on anyone's 'Top 100 Things Mark Coyle Needs To Do' list. But SU fans that were there seemed to have universally-enjoyed themselves. It actually felt like the athletics programs and the local community came together in a way that hasn't always been there. Building tours, autographs, free food (for season-ticket holders)...tiny pieces of the puzzle that might have been overlooked in past years.
It's a Little Thing. And you know what, it's nice to see Syracuse Athletics do a Little Thing well.
Gross, Giansante & Co. always seemed to have taken the wrong lessons from Oregon. They saw the Times Square billboards & crazy uniforms and equated those as the reason the Ducks became a national power. But what they missed was that billboards and uniforms were Steps No. 7 and No. 8 in a much-bigger process that involved so many little things before Oregon even got to the place. Money, facilities, a culture of success, an uptick in recruiting, on-field victories...all of these things were already in place before Oregon became the the neon green, double-digit machine we know today. SU bypassed all of that interior work and went right for the flashy exterior stuff, dooming much of it to be worthless.
Mark Coyle talked a lot about SU's "core" fanbase and getting all of the internal processes and people on the same page in order to make Orange football great again. Personally, I think that's right on point. If Fan Fest is an example, I expect to see a lot of little wins for SU Athletics in the coming months. The kind of things that probably won't be talked about on ESPN and probably won't earn SU any on-field success this season, but will form a strong base from which future success can sprout.
Perhaps this is the Age of The Little Things. That's exactly the kind of culture Syracuse Orange Football needs right now.