Opponent: The University of Pittsburgh Panthers (2-3, 0-1)
Location: Pittsburgh, Penn.
Embrace the (non) Hate!
We've played each other for generations. Since the fifties, Syracuse and Pittsburgh have tee'd it up in a contest that features two of the Northeast's most storied university football programs. And through the decades, there's only one word that can accurately describe the level of vitriolic animosity between these two great programs:
Yup. Despite the familiarity, the shared geography, the shared hatred of Penn State, there's an incredible lack of there there when these two combatants meet. So in the spirit of historical referencing, #FakeNunes asks: what would happen if our collective level of ambivalence crept into the greatest rivalries of all time?:
Hamilton v. Burr
The Hamilton/Burr conflict began in 1781 when Burr won a U.S. Senate seat over Philip Schuyler, Hamilton's father-in-law. The conflict continued in 1804 when Burr, having been dropped as Vice President by Thomas Jefferson, ran unsuccessfully for the Governor of New York against Hamilton-backed candidate Morgan Lewis.
But in the SU-Pitt spirit of non-rivalry, Burr shrugged off the defeat and joined Hamilton in an effort to lobby for tighter restrictions against the practice of dueling. The Burr-Hamilton law that would eventually end dueling and be a flashpoint for the elimination of private gun ownership in the U.S. in the 1820s would be immortalized by Broadway nearly 200 years later in Lin Manuel Miranda and Nathan Lane's musical comedy "Guys and Dualls"
Hatfields v. McCoys
The two families first initiated hostilities in 1865 along the West Virginia/Kentucky border at the end of the Civil War. Asa Hermon McCoy, a Union soldier, was returning home from war when he was ambushed by a West Virginia militia group led by Jim Vance - the uncle of Anse Hatfield. The Hatfields - owners of a timbering company and distillery, further incensed the McCoys 13 years later when the family won custody of a disputed hog.
But in the SU-Pitt spirit of non-rivalry, the McCoys didn't take the loss personally and actually proposed that both families merge their illegal moonshine enterprises and increase distribution across states borders. The Hatfields shrugged their shoulders and agreed. The decision proved to be a boon to both families, as Hatfield McCoy Private Reserve Bourbon quickly became a household name in the U.S. and abroad. Hatfield-McCoy remained among the most valuable privately-owned beverage brands until the 2004 acquisition by InBev for $850 million.
Nikola Tesla vs. Thomas Edison
The inventors, as different in their approach to science as to their approach to hygiene (Tesla was a famous germaphope), clashed famously over the advent of electricity. Edison's Direct Current (DC) system was seen as safer, but Tesla's Alternating Current (AC) system was seen as more powerful and practical for usage by a large city or industry even though it was less predictable and more dangerous.
But in the SU-Pitt spirit of non-rivalry, both inventors incredibly put their famous egocentricity aside and agreed to work on a technology that applied elements of both systems. The Alternating Direct Current (AC/DC) system that was eventually mastered and employed in the late 1800s revolutionized industry and quickly ushered in the era of the electric car, reducing carbon emissions and pollution, and allowing the U.S. to take a lead in clean energy in the early 1900s. Today's flying cars that are powered by a postage stamp-sized 4,000-hour rechargeable battery pack, can be traced back easily to the brilliant indifference of these great inventors' efforts.
Harry Potter vs. Lord Voldemort
Following the death of his parents at the hands of The Dark Lord, Harry and Voldemort squared off once more in the bowels of Hogwarts during the young wizard's first year at the school. Harry's use of The Sorcerer's Stone foiled He Who Shall Not Be Named's attempts at returning to life and dominating the wizarding world.
But in the SU-Pitt spirit of non-rivalry, Voldemort wasn't all that bothered by the defeat and instead not to bother with some sixth grader. Instead, he went to work on setting up a rehabilitation clinic for Deatheaters called the "Tom Riddle Centre For The Rehabilitation of Deatheaters.” Voldemort's work with The Deatheaters and advocacy to re-integrate them into society earned him the opportunity to be reanimated in the human form, where he spent the next five years as a faculty member at the school. He was tragically killed in a Defense against the Dark Arts demonstration when Ron Weasley's crappy broken wand accidentally cast an avada kedavra curse.
As you can see, the institutionalized ambivalence of the SU-Pitt rivalry isn't something we should be questioning. Rather, it should be celebrated! Sure, it subtracts a little spice away from a fall Saturday that in isolation should be more meaningful. But when you look at the big picture, there is true greatness TO SOCITEY AS A WHOLE when two great institutions decide to not really give two s#*ts! Go Orange! Beat Pitt!!!
...or don't. Whatever.
Coach's Film Study
Today's Film: All The Right Moves
You know, a lot of Syracuse people complain that Pittsburgh is an opponent that doesn't really get the blood boiling. And I kind of get that.
I mean no disrespect, but for a city as rich in history, cultural and industrial significance as Pittsburgh, there is something about it that doesn't allow an outsider to really capture its essence. It is a city that is kind of cool and endearingly quirky. It has a number of elements that really could make it a top flight American city, but certain things seem to hold it back from being something truly great.
Movies set in and around Pittsburgh are no exception. I mean, you have a few that have exciting and groundbreaking moments. You know who started that whole Gatorade shower thing? Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance,” that's who! If you are looking for a seriously groovy and absolutely absurd sports film starring none other than Dr J. himself, look no further than "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.”
But for me, Pittsburgh gets a pass on its curious film history, because in the end, it's home to one of my favorite football films of all time: "All the Right Moves!”
The film, while not critically acclaimed, does a great job of immersing you into the life of Stefan Djordjevic (Tom Cruise), a Serbian-American teen living in Ampipe, Penn. — a classic Western PA steel town literally created and run by the American Pipe & Steel (AMPIPE) Company. Stefan's struggle to realize his goal of earning a scholarship to play college football and escape his pre-ordained destiny of staying in and working for Ampipe has you rooting for that kid as if he was wearing Syracuse Orange on Saturdays.
The movie also features THE GREATEST-EVER ACTOR IN THE ROLE AS A FOOTBALL COACH, Craig T. Nelson, in his career-defining role as Coach Burt Nickerson. If you want your football films to be feel-good all-the-way, Remember the Titans may be your hot route. But if you like to keep things real, keep things gritty, keep things...Pittsburgh, then "All The Right Moves" will never, EVER, disappoint!
Three-and-a-half Oranges (out of five)
The #FakeNunes Statistical Index (#FNSI)
F&B: (Food and Beverage). Pittsburgh is a solid if not spectacular spot for food and beverage. The city's strong German and Polish communities have made room for a number of decent breweries with East End and Penn Brewery strongly featured.
Being a larger U.S. city, Pittsburgh also has an underrated range of food options from higher-end spots that would not be out of place in New York or Los Angeles, such as Morcilla or Spoon. Near the University, the world famous Primanti Brothers and Fuel and Fuddle will help one pack on the Freshman 15 with the best of them. Panthers fans are proud of their food history and options, but beware of this recipe from our friends at Cardiac Hill and a special guest from our very own TNIAAM.
Overall, Pittsburgh's food scene maps to Syracuse's nicely, but has a slight edge in quantity and variety that is in accordance to the citys size. ADVANTAGE: Pittsburgh
Tailgate Efficiency: Heinz Field is an okay spot for tailgating, with decent car access, and views of the three rivers. But college football tailgating is really about getting that on-campus feel. While 'Cuse's tailgating scene is extremely disjointed, you can set up the smoker or grill in a number of spots on campus and still walk to the Carrier Dome ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
Adj. Uniform Coolness: Syracuse has had two pretty good weeks on the uniform front, with the Orange/White/Blue road combo looking reasonably solid against NC State. Pittsburgh has rightfully returned to their classic script Pitt logo on their helmets and have added to their solid navy/gold combos with a glorious retro royal blue/yellow that hits me as hard as a Hugh Green blindside sack. At this point, I'd DIE for a retro (1990s) SU look to be rolled into our current Nike rotation. ADVANTAGE: Pitt
4th String F.I.: (4th String Familiarity Index) Both teams are struggling at 2-3, and most fans are desperately focused on getting the most out of their first and second teams right now. ADVANTAGE: Even
Hot Seat: Pat Narduzzi has been on board since 2014, and after basically destroying the Panthers' three year contract with BBVA Compass Bowl upon arrival, has slowly inched the team higher and higher in expectations. Expectations in 2017 had been set a bit lower, but a win over Syracuse is a minimum expectation to keep the momentum of the Narduzzi Era going. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: Pitt
FACEPALM: We thought a 6 win season was possible. We lost to Middle Tennessee State. We've reset our expectations as a result, but are in desperate need of a win. A loss to the Panthers will really take the wind out of our sails ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
Grandpa Edgar: "You've managed to beat Youngstown State, Central Connecticut, Central Michigan and Rice between the two of you. You realize the U.S. Marines had a more impressive OOC resume when they beat Granada back in 1983? I'll give Syracuse a slight edge in this satin pillow fight because they're playing at home." ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
Swift/Perry Index: Meh (see above). ADVANTAGE: Even
Iso #DISRESPEKT: Admit it, we thought we had a moral victory against LSU until the Tigers went ahead and lost to Troy at home the following week. Now watch NC State lose by five touchdowns at home to Louisville. ADVANTAGE: Even
Narcissism+: Narcissism dies when 2-3 teams from The Rust Belt face off. ADVANTAGE: Even
EDSBS IJ Factor: (Every Day Should Be Saturday Inside Joke Factor). With Ed Orgeron and LSU in free fall, Wazzu coming out of nowhere, and Louisville's Athletic Department having a grand ol' time imploding, there's nary a page view left for poor Pitt and SU. ADVANTAGE: Even
East Coast Bias +/-: If two Northeast football programs play a game in the woods during the MLB playoffs, and no one is around to hear it, do they even exist? ADVANTAGE: Even
Tradition/Culture Index: Both are Northeastern schools with a proud football tradition, national championships and a fading star in today's college football landscape. Our similarities are more numerous than our differences to the point that it's a bit like staring in the mirror. ADVANTAGE: Even
This one is a complete toss up, and the #FNSI agrees. There is no definitive advantage for either side, and the final possession may determine the winner in what should be a repeat of the 2016 season finale. Syracuse 93, Pitt 91.