Change isn’t easy to deal with. Syracuse Orange fans have had to try and handle a lot of change over the last year as NCAA sports have been impacted by NIL and the transfer portal.
One common theme that I’ve seen come up online is the notion that the Orange are somehow dealing with more departures than other schools. There’s a belief that it’s all NIL-related and that Syracuse can’t (or won’t) compete in today’s market. That might be true in certain cases, but it seems that a portion of the fanbase has come to take every departure as evidence of this.
It certainly didn’t help when Jesse Edwards made his awkward comments about Syracuse’s attempts. “NIL isn’t what I’m playing for. I didn’t really want to get into this, but it doesn’t seem that Syracuse as an organization is that into that. I’m not really sure what their plan is or what the school’s idea is behind it. For me it was something that they couldn’t offer in that way.”
Interestingly the same negativity didn’t follow Joe Girard’s departure. There weren’t questions wondering why Syracuse didn’t set Girard up with more commercial opportunities to keep him for a 5th year. I recognize that a number of fans were ready to turn the page there, but his departure should have reminded fans that sometimes players and coaches agree it’s time to go in a new direction.
For Adrian Autry that was bringing in former 5-star recruit JJ Starling from Notre Dame. A number of fans seemed to believe that it was only a case of Starling wanting to return home. Many refused to consider that by doing so, they were effectively arguing against their NIL claims. If all players care about is the money, why would a player any program would take choose to come to the school that isn’t into that?
Justin Lamson decided to enter the portal on Sunday and there was more uproar from fans who believe he should be the starting quarterback. While his potential has been on display the last two spring games, it shouldn’t be a shock that a quarterback might not want to spend three seasons as a backup. Just scroll through the On3 transfer list at the position and you’ll see plenty of FBS schools represented.
People who want to lament the transfer portal should also recognize that the Orange are left with two SEC transfers manning the quarterback position. Both Garrett Shrader and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson had high school rankings that would put them in Syracuse’s top-10 in the 247 era. They are players who the Orange haven’t landed out of high school and adding them as transfers shouldn’t be overlooked.
Yes, Syracuse is likely to lose some players to bigger programs. Some of them will leave for more money. Some will leave for better opportunities, but the Orange are going to be able to turn around and offer better opportunities from players at smaller programs, or who find themselves looking to leave bigger programs for more playing time.
As fans you have the option to choose not to watch or invest your time in college sports, but if you choose to continue to be a fan, it’s probably time to start accepting the new reality.