This is the letter I always dreaded having to write.
In 2016, the Syracuse Orange did something unthinkable. Our men’s basketball program was bestowed with a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament, one that many of you felt was undeserving, and we took it and ruined everything you hold dear.
To this day, we remain unbearably sorry about the pain and suffering we caused. To the good people of Dayton and Middle Tennessee. To the nice folks of Gonzaga and Virginia. To Joe Lunardi and Mike Greenberg and Doug Gottlieb and Pat Forde. You asked for so little and yet we took so much. We will regret it always.
I’d like to say we learned a lot of lessons that year. About how much it hurt you to see Syracuse make an NCAA Tournament over “more deserving” teams. That it was painful to see “better” teams lose to Syracuse and miss out of the special moments they’d spent all season building towards. That there were countless teams “robbed” of the chance for one shining moment because Syracuse unjustly received theirs.
We started to rebuild that trust by missing the 2017 NCAA Tournament. We tried to do it again by skipping the 2018 NCAA Tournament as well.
I don’t need to tell you that, unfortunately, Syracuse has broken that trust. Not only did we accept a bid to be the very last team to make the tournament, but we have since committed many of the same crimes as in 2016, besmirching America and everything it stands for once more.
We are so, so sorry.
To Doug Gottlieb, who once again sounded the clarion call to let the world know that Syracuse absolutely did not deserve to be in the tournament this year. And when SU started winning and destroying the hopes and dreams of other schools, he tried to warn America that this kind of low-scoring, defensive-minded basketball was not the work of a smart coach making the most of his limited roster but instead a black mark on the sport and our society. And yet, Syracuse refused to listen.
To Rob Dauster, who said he “[didn’t] get the argument” for letting Syracuse into the tournament over Oklahoma State, USC, and St. Mary’s. Frankly, there is no argument. Syracuse was wrong to take that spot from those teams and there’s no denying this. Had any of them made the tournament instead, they’d already be in the Final Four by now.
To Brad Evans, who said Syracuse’s inclusion over USC was “a travesty” and “inexplicable.” We hurt yours and USC’s feelings and we don’t think we’ll ever be able to make it up to you.
To Matt Norlander, who thought SU getting in over Oklahoma State was “baffling.” We know! And because of us, we sent OSU to the NIT. But we all know they would have made it to the Sweet Sixteen in our place. We understand. And we know it’s ultimately our fault they didn’t win more games. We should have helped more during the season.
To Joe Lunardi, who we’ve mistreated so badly for so long that he’s gone into some kind of fugue state whenever anyone brings up Syracuse now.
I think Syracuse will win every game it plays until the end of time. https://t.co/M8V8GDMFZ9— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) March 14, 2018
To Arizona State, who deserved to emerge from Dayton and play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. You have three years of Herm Edwards to look forward to. We didn’t need to add to that misery.
To TCU, who is coached by Jamie Dixon and is well-regarded as someone who “owns” Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. We knew this going on. And what did we do? We de-mystified that aura and reminded everyone that Dixon’s real reputation is that he can’t get it done in the NCAA Tournament. That was cruel of us. We didn’t need to do that.
To Michigan State. Oh, Michigan State. Sweet, sweet Michigan State. In 2016, it was supposed to be you. It was supposed to be you reaching the Sweet Sixteen, defeating Gonzaga, defeating Virginia (again), and taking your rightful place in the Final Four. But then, Syracuse caused Middle Tennessee State to beat you and then stole your spot from right under you. Worse than that, we reduced MTSU to a “gift” after they lost to us, thereby reversing the notion that they were pretty good and that’s why they beat you.
However, here we stood. Once more. Face to face. Brother to brother. We met in Detroit, practically your backyard. We knew what was expected of us. That’s why we let you out-rebound us by a mile, only hit one three-pointer, and only dished out three assists. Somehow, however, we screwed it all up anyway and beat you, once again taking your spot. We have no words for these actions. We only hope we can make it up to you in a future Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
And, look, Michigan State, if you need help, just let us know. We promise to help those who ask for it, unlike, well, you.
To Georgetown, who continues to suck.
To Jason McIntyre, whose tournament we’ve ruined because of our unwatchable dreck.
a michigan state loss here would suck badly for the tournament. everyone was geeked for Sparty/Duke in the Sweet 16, and now this unwatchable Syracuse dreck might ruin it— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) March 18, 2018
We were geeked for Sparty/Duke too! Shame on us for not letting Michigan State just advance like we should have. We are selfish. We too are searching for answers by drawing parallels between things that didn’t seem to have any effect before Sunday but perhaps suddenly do now because why the hell not?
To everyone who filled out a bracket. We know that when you saw ASU/SYR, you knew not to let that entrant get too far. It just wouldn’t make sense. We would have put TCU in the Round of 32 and Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen, too. We wish we could go back and change everything, or at the very least warn you. We know that your lost winnings mean you lost trust in us, and we will spend the offseason attempting to figure out how to win that back, piece by piece.
To the NCAA. Gosh, you guys, you were really clear when you sanctioned us. You took away wins, suspended Coach Boeheim, took away scholarships, and made sure that the current players suffered for whatever happened a six or seven years ago with a very clear purpose. To make us understand that we didn’t belong. And it was the right lesson, it’s just a lesson we have failed to adhere to. A Final Four in 2016 and now back in the Sweet Sixteen in 2018 as an 11-seed? What kind of monsters are we? It’s like we’re making you look more and more toothless with every season and every win. That’s shameful of us and we cannot possibly apologize enough. So, so, so sorry.
To America. We’re back here once again and we don’t know what’s left to say. We let you down, promised to do better, and let you down once again. You just wanted to enjoy an NCAA Tournament free from discussions about 2-3 zones and ornery Jim Boeheim. You wanted up-tempo basketball with lots of scoring and exciting action. You wanted to see teams that have been good all year long advance and play for championships. We hope to make sure you get all of that very, very soon and we apologize from the bottom of our hearts for not giving you what you wanted. It’s like a cloud of shame that surrounds us as we move from round to round, ruining your tournament experience more and more with each win.
In closing, we want you all to know that our previous and current runs through the NCAA Tournament do not reflect our values. Once we’ve finished ruining everything we will embark on a listening tour where we plan on learning how we’ve affected you and what we can do to begin the healing process. We are speaking with our faith and community leaders to find guidance through this difficult time. We urge you to seek the same.
You asked for an exciting NCAA Tournament full of upsets and unexpected runs by low-seeded teams. We see now that we’ve misunderstood that. We are sorry. We hope you find it in your hearts to forgive us, now and next weekend when we ruin the lives of so many others.
[P.S. — To show how sorry we are, we’ve also made t-shirts. Apologies for that, too]