Like many outlets that cover the Syracuse Orange, we’ve spent some time discussing the number 44 this year, and why it should be reinstated for Sean Tucker. Discussion of the historic number has reached both Tucker and Orange coach Dino Babers at this point, and both addressed it with media on Tuesday.
Importantly, Tucker stated “Where I stand on that is basically that I would definitely like to wear it. So if it comes, I’ll wear it. If I can, I definitely will.”
This doesn’t come as a surprise after Tucker posted an Instagram story a week ago with him wearing 44. Still, it’s good to hear it more directly addressed by him. Better still, he very much understands and appreciates the history that comes with the number, telling media, “it would mean a lot. The legacy behind it. The tradition of 44. Meeting Floyd Little once on my official visit. Definitely having the opportunity to maybe wear that number would mean a lot.”
Tucker’s numbers do speak for themselves when it comes to credentials for donning the number. Through four games, he’s No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards, with 536 and is tied for fifth in the country with seven rushing scores. He’s also No. 1 in the country in yards from scrimmage with 711 and is one of just 10 players in the country to collect eight or more touchdowns. And he even has Heisman odds now. That’s... a pretty compelling case.
Babers tends to agree, though also admits he doesn’t have a ton of say in the matter. To him, it’s up the Council of 44, which apparently includes the living 44s like Jim Brown, Rob Konrad, Michael Owens and Terry Richardson — no word on whether the families of 44s that have passed like Floyd Little and Ernie Davis get a say (something that was mentioned in the past).
“If the No. 44 guys voted him in to wear it, I think based off of his personality, that he’d probably wear it with a lot of pride. It’s not something for me to give. It’s not mine to give. I don’t think it’s for the media to give. I think Jim Brown and Konrad, those guys get together and they decide that thing. Now, once again, I may not get in a vote in that because that may be way above my head. But that’s the way I would do it. Let those guys look at him.”
“I’ll put a little tape together. If they think he’s worthy, let them vote on it. To me, that’s how it should be done forever. But I don’t always get to pick.”
The “I don’t always get to pick” language is interesting, in that it implies this decision’s been up for debate before. Has it been an option for someone like Moe Neal, but turned down? I’m honesty curious now. Also, would very much like to see the highlight mixtape Babers pulls together for Tucker.
The Council of 44’s membership has always been a bit of a mystery, and this potentially provides the most clarity we’ve seen on it. Hopefully that group sees the value in putting the number back on the field — especially for a player as good as Tucker. For as much as it’s important for players like Brown to have a say in who carries on the legacy, they also shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all at this point given how important the number is for the program’s history, and as a future marketing and recruiting opportunity.
Tucker said to media that he hasn’t been approached about it. But the fact that Babers is openly talking about it for the first time in a bit would seem to indicate there’s been at least some thought put to it. Hopefully we get an update soon. Would certainly be a fun additional narrative for upcoming games vs. Wake Forest (Oct. 9) or Clemson (Oct. 15).