Over the next few weeks, I plan on doing Q-and-A's with opposing bloggers about Northwestern's football season. The only problem is that the questions I ask are generally different from those normal people ask.
Today: Sean Keeley, from Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.
Today? Big East. A year from now? ACC. Three years from now? Probably in the "Big ACC" hybrid of the two.
It's not ideal but it's the right move. We'd love to stay in a Big East that has the same traditional rivalries in basketball and was smart and forward-thinking enough to have protected itself in football but we all know that didn't happen. And if it wasn't us leaving for the ACC it would have been UConn or Rutgers.
In football, it's a fantastic move for us. With West Virginia gone and Pitt coming with us, we don't lose too much historical rivalry that we otherwise would have had in the new Big East. We get Boston College back as an instant rival. We're already seeing the move pay dividends in recruiting. Obviously, winning will be even harder now but I think we can tread water for at least a little while as we get used to things.
SoP: The last time Northwestern and Syracuse played, Greg Paulus led the Orange to a victory with 346 yards passing, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. I didn't pay attention the rest of your season, so I'll assume based on his performance in that one game that you went like 10-2 due to Paulus' all-American QB performances. What would be the 2012 Syracuse equivalent of having Greg Paulus throw for 350 yards for Northwestern, as far as super-embarrassing things go?
You would be correct. Except that we actually went 4-8 and Paulus was less an All-American and more of a "senior leader playing like a freshman." I actually don't think the Paulus Experiment was a waste. It gave current starter Ryan Nassib a chance to develop and he's since become our best quarterback since Donovan McNabb.
The 2012 equivalent of Paulus going nuts would have to be running back Adonis Ameen-Moore rushing for 200 yards and three scores. The sophomore checks in at a scant 244 pounds and is our version of Ironhead Heyward, except that he hasn't broken out yet. He's still waiting in the wings...crushing them.
What's the Carrier Dome like for football? Would you guess it's more or less cripplingly depressing than Northwestern's Ryan Field.
When it's packed, it can get pretty loud. The problem is the whole "when it's packed" thing. Attendance usually wavers somewhere around the 32 - 38K region (capacity 50K). It can get a little warm in there (despite the air conditioning name). There's a part of Syracuse fans who wish we had an outdoor stadium and tried to use the weather to our advantage but that's never gonna happen. In the end, we just have to be happy with our Dome, where they serve beer. Oh did I mention they serve beer? Cause they do.
I'm from New York, and I can't recall many sillier ideas than when Syracuse peppered NYC buses and phone booths with ads saying something along the lines of "New York's College Team". (/quickly all the pieces of advertising saying NORTHWESTERN: CHICAGO'S BIG TEN TEAM") Do you think that whole trying to make people from New York like Syracuse sports thing worked?
You know what's funny? It's actually kinda working. Kinda.
I know, it's silly. And no, there aren't a lot of unaffiliated New Yorkers running around looking for the Carrier Dome in Brooklyn. But...it's having an impact on recruits, many of whom are saying "Syracuse is New York's school" without being prompted. And its nice for the SU alums living and working in NYC.
New York City will never be a college sports town. But, if Syracuse can imprint itself over Rutgers and UConn, both of whom want that same label, then it's worth it. Even if it is ridiculous.
Do you ever miss the "men" part of "Syracuse Orange?"
I was thinking about that the other day and I realized that I don't. I didn't like the change when it happened, as many Syracuse fans didn't, but we all seemed to have gotten over it and moved on. When you think about it, it was kinda offensive in a Redmen way, even if we tried to redefine it as a "dude who is a giant orange." It still makes me laugh when someone writes about us as the Syracuse Orangemen, which happens once every week or so.
My full name is Rodger Douglas Sherman, and I was born in New York City in 1990 to a father with a passing interest in basketball. What do you think the odds are I'm middle named after late 80's Syracuse point guard Sherman Douglas, even if by accident?
There is a 87% chance that your father subconsciously named you that. I mean, it's Sherman Douglas. I'm pretty sure we're all named after him. My name is Sean and all four of those letters can be found in Sherman. Coincidence? I think not.
THE ONE QUESTION ABOUT FOOTBALL: What are Syracuse's biggest strengths this season, and how do you think the season opener against Northwestern should go?
For once, Syracuse actually has the potential for a great passing game. QB Ryan Nassib is a senior and he's got single-season reception record-holder Alec Lemon and Pinstripe Bowl hero Marcus Sales to throw to. He's also got a very deep tight end group and running back corp. The offensive line features an All-Big East guard and a Rimington Award watch list center. And Coach Marrone has promised that this year's offense will loosen it up a bit, even going out of his way to talk about freshman Ashton Broyld as a kind of QB/RB/WR Kordell Stewart type of weapon.
Unfortunately, just about everything else on this team is a bit of a question mark. I suppose the linebackers look solid but we're not quite sure what to make of the defense as a whole.
Oh, we just recruited a kid who can kick the ball into the endzone on kickoffs. That's a plus.
I never know what to make of season openers and I don't know enough about either team to make a prediction. All I will say is that at this point, we're looking at the Northwestern game as a critical swing win/loss. We've got a tough non-conference schedule that includes USC and Missouri. This game and the Minnesota game could dictate whether or not we go 7-5 or 5-7...or worse.