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Syracuse football needs to worry about winning games not appeasing fans

It’s not fun but it’s the reality

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina State William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday’s announcement that the Syracuse Orange and Penn State Nittany Lions had agreed to renew their football rivalry brought understandable excitement from fans. I recognize that I threw water on the fun and wanted to give more of my perspective while addressing the biggest responses from you in support of the two-game series

Shouldn’t we schedule big-name opponents?

I get that playing Penn State is exciting for Syracuse fans- especially fans who’ve been following the team prior to the 90s when the teams were regular opponents. It’s certainly enjoyable to be in the Dome when it’s full and there is a buzz around the game- not denying that at all. Even though John has moved on, the notion that Syracuse doesn’t help themselves with their scheduling remains. Don’t believe me, well look at this:

ACC football bowl appearances

School Bowl Games since 2013*
School Bowl Games since 2013*
BC 6
Clemson 9
Duke 5
Florida St 6
Georgia Tech 4
Louisville 6 (starting with 2014)
Miami 9
UNC 7
NC State 7
Pitt 8
Syracuse 2
Virginia 4
Virginia Tech 8
Wake Forest 6
* includes seasons school was bowl eligible but did not play a bowl game
Bowl appearances for ACC schools since 2013

Since joining the ACC, Syracuse has the fewest seasons with bowl eligibility. Some of you commented that the ACC isn’t a tough football conference and the Orange aren’t competitive. They have had two seasons where they have been .500 or above in conference play so if you can’t consistently win those games, why are you scheduling tougher opponents out of conference?

When we talk about Syracuse falling behind BC and Wake, there is a pretty strong link in how the schools have approached scheduling. We thought the Orange took a big step forward when they got out of the Wisconsin deal and added UConn/Army more often but the last three seasons shouldn’t make the administration feel that Syracuse is ready to step up the competition level.

It’s good for attendance

I have no doubt that Syracuse will have it’s largest crowd in 2028 when Penn State comes to town. It will also be due to a large contingent of their fans just like it was in 2008 when the teams last met in the Dome. A one-game attendance boost is nice and maybe even some extra season tickets are sold but do you know what helped Syracuse sell more football season tickets? Winning 10 games in 2018.....and yes like I just mentioned with Penn State some of the increased sales were from Clemson fans wanting to see their team but Syracuse’s non-ACC home games that year were Western Michigan and Holy Cross. A big name opponent is nice for a one-time boost but if you want the Dome to be full of home fans on a consistent basis Syracuse needs to be a winning team.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Players want the experience of going to Happy Valley and this is good for recruiting

I’m not going to pretend to speak for the players. However, can anyone point to an increase in recruiting after the Orange played at USC or at LSU or even from the MetLife games? Is a two-game series more enjoyable than the experience of winning and going to a bowl game?

I get that a lot can happen before this first game is played. I get that this is a historic Northeast rival and as a fan I’d definitely be more interested in this than a game against a MAC opponent. As someone who has seen the last 20 years of Syracuse football I’m not convinced this is anything other than a short-term ticket solution rather than a program booster.

Syracuse has to make sure that the other games they schedule in 2027/28 are done so that the team has the best possible opportunity to make a bowl game. The long-term health of the program and the resulting revenue depends on it.