The Syracuse Orange head into the final regular season still searching for their sixth win of the season. It can be true that this program needs new leadership and it also needs to get back to a bowl game.
Part of the reason the Orange program is in it’s current state is that it has made back-to-back bowl games once since Coach P left. No one is going to plan a parade for making it to Boston or Birmingham for a bowl, but a program that needs to develop player depth desperately needs the extra practices and to point to a post-season opportunity for recruiting.
Why does any bowl game matter? Look around at the P5 and ask if you’d rather be these schools: Pitt, Virginia, Wake Forest, Baylor, Cincinnati, Houston, Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Arizona State, Stanford, Cal, Vanderbilt and Colorado. That list will grow next week as a number of other five-win P5 teams play their final games. Getting to any bowl is better than missing out- just look at how Georgia Tech celebrated their win to understand that.
I get the fear that a win over Wake Forest will just mean Dino returns next year. No one wants to see more 50+ field goal attempts in 4th and short situations. No one wants to see penalties which kill promising offensive drives or hand opponents first downs. I get that. Spending Saturdays watching this program is often miserable, try spending it trying to monitor everyone else’s misery on top of that.
I know there’s a chance that six wins is enough for John Wildhack to point to post-season opportunities as reason to keep the status quo. The way Syracuse has treated football the last twenty-five years would seem to indicate that he’d be fine with running it back one more time just to see if this snowball catches fire. Being scared of that is valid for fans......however which scenario would be more enticing for prospective coaches: a program which lost seven of the last eight games, or a program coming off back-to-back bowl games?
A new staff is not going to build a winner in the transfer portal- Colorado has shown that P5 offensive lineman are not plentiful in the portal. The best path forward is going to include building around players like LeQuint Allen and Dan Villari and developing current players to step up. Two weeks of bowl practices matter for that purpose.
A bowl game is a reward for those who have poured themselves into trying to win these games...it doesn’t also need to be a reward for those who have had eight years to make getting to a bowl game an annual occurrence.