The Syracuse Orange are 6-2. The last two home games have been sell outs. They are ranked in the Top 25 for the fifth straight week and last night found themselves ranked in the first College Football Playoff Rankings.
Even though a bowl bid is secured, no one is claiming that Syracuse is back. This team has a lot of things to clean up over the final month of the season, but more importantly they need to cash in on the momentum they are feeling.
You know I’m of the opinion that this season is already a success because of the 6 wins. I also admit that finishing with 6 or 7 is going to feel disappointing after the 6-0 start. A weak finish will turn away the casual fans who came out to the NC State and Notre Dame games. It will put the Orange in a lower-tier bowl against another 6-win P5. It will take away a good portion of the positive vibes around this program.
Even a 2-2 finish can keep those things going into 2023. If the Orange can land a Holiday Bowl or higher, they can get people to buy back in to a program which has been slowly gaining ground in terms of financial support from boosters and the staffing investment required to compete in P5 football.
Syracuse is going to have multiple NFL Draft picks this spring- a rare occurrence in the 21st century. Players who are major contributors to this year’s success will be on the sidelines on Sunday next year, and they will need to be replaced.
Those 2023 replacements aren’t in high school this Fall, they are on the Syracuse sideline or the sidelines at other college campuses. Coaches have some tangible evidence to show these players how they could become the next Sean Tucker or Mikel Jones. They can point to Matthew Bergeron going from an unknown recruit to a player on NFL scouts must-see list.
The coaches can also pull up the video showing the difference in Garrett Shrader or Oronde Gadsden II to reinforce the improvements in the offensive scheme and development. Flipping or finding a late 2023 recruit would be nice but if the Orange want to continue their success it might be best to use the portal while focusing on the 2024 high school players.
Next year Syracuse is scheduled to open at home against Colgate, then Western Michigan. Those teams aren’t going to sell tickets themselves but if this year’s team can finish strong and the athletic department can continued this new engagement of notable Syracuse alums to promote the program, there’s reason to believe that attendance can remain strong.
Right now Syracuse’s biggest opponent isn’t found on the schedule, it’s complacency. Everyone involved in the program can’t afford to be satisfied. They should be proud of what’s been done so far, but after failing to capitalize on 2018’s success, they cannot afford to repeat history.