During yesterday’s Packer and Durham Show on the ACC Network, there was a discussion about which sport truly represents each conference member’s identity. When they got to the Orange, the question was “Is Syracuse a basketball school or a lacrosse school?” (Sorry MrSUFootball).
As I was driving I started thinking about how I would define the Syracuse. Basketball seems to be the sport most fans would identify the school with due to the Dome and Jim Boeheim. One of the show’s producers is a Syracuse alum, and he said that local fans might say it’s a lacrosse school thanks to the 11 National Championships.
Here’s how were going to handle the question. Since it was posed on the ACC Network we need to look at the ACC era and then it’s pretty clear what Syracuse is....
Syracuse is a Cross-Country school.
The Orange joined the ACC in 2013 and from that point until the present Syracuse has won six ACC Championships in cross-country (the distance group also contributed mightily to the 2016 ACC Indoor Track title), the 2015 NCAA Championship and produced the best distance runner in ACC history in NCAA 2017 Individual Champion Justyn Knight. There isn’t another sport that comes close to that success in this time period.
Field Hockey is the only other program to win a National Championship since the Orange joined the ACC and that puts them next on the list. Men’s Lacrosse is the only other sport with multiple ACC titles so they edge out Women’s Lacrosse and Men’s Soccer in that regard. We certainly recognize that both lacrosse programs have developed a ton of professional players and men’s soccer has a string of MLS 1st round picks produced under Ian McIntyre. These programs have made a successful transition to the ACC.
Some of you are probably going to point out that Syracuse Women’s Basketball reached a National Championship game or that Men’s Basketball has a Final Four appearance and those are nice but still not up to what cross-country has done since the move to the ACC. Facts are facts folks. Go check the trophy case at Manley Field House if you want to challenge this because the proof is in the hardware.
Now if Men’s Lacrosse wins NCAA title No. 12 this Memorial Day weekend we can revisit this debate in June but until then when someone in North Carolina asks you to answer the “Syracuse is a ______ school” then there’s only one correct response.
Embrace your skinny-legged champions, Orange fans!