What’s up everyone, I’m back in Kansas after my cross country pilgrimage to God’s Country. I had 13 hours of slightly hungover driving to contemplate my deep rooted hatred for Syracuse and I’m ready to let loose.
Clemson comes into this game after another disappointing win over a cramping and dehydrated Texas A&M. Some programs would be happy with a 14 point win over a top 15 team, but Clemson’s only opponent is perfection. The Tigers left a few touchdowns on the field Saturday and giving up a 1st quarter field goal to Jimbo and the Aggies is pretty unacceptable. I was looking forward to watching A&M quit on the field Bama style, but the Aggies hit the fluids hard at halftime (or maybe they didn’t need to use cramps as timeouts like they did in the first half) and our 3rd string defense let A&M save a sliver of respect with a last second backdoor cover. That was a deep, deep indictment.
The Tigers are still on a 17 game win streak, but the 20 point victory streak is over. There is no excuse for not dominating the 2nd (or possibly 3rd) best team in Texas. Jimbo’s band of second tier Longhorns escaped the Clemson home and home series with two supposed losses, but they still have their dignity. That’s disappointing on a number of different levels. Thankfully, Clemson has an opportunity to take their frustrations out on the hapless Yankees from Syracuse this week.
Let’s get to the hate.
New Season, Same Syracuse
Syracuse came into this season with lofty expectations. Some people (couldn’t be me) thought they were one of the best 25 teams in the nation after a 10 win 2018 season. Let me be clear.
Syracuse is still a mediocre football program, and that’s being generous.
Last year was a perfect combination of a generational quarterback (for Syracuse at least) and a garbage ACC. Cuse maxed out their potential as a slightly above average team, and you know what, good for them, it’s about time the ACC got something other than more fading, moth eaten basketball programs out of this expansion deal. This Syracuse team is closer to the 4-8 2016 team that Clemson took behind the woodshed than the 2018 team that choked away a chance to beat the wounded champs.
Don’t believe me?
Syracuse just lost to Maryland 63-20. In my opinion, that’s grounds for being dismissed from the conference. The Orange had a chance to walk into College Park and collect a debt for the ACC. Instead, they got punched in the face, curled up in a ball, waited for Maryland to get tired of stomping on them, slipped out the back door and limped back to New York.
What did you expect though?
Syracuse didn’t turn some sort of mythical “corner” as a program. They’re still located in middle of nowhere New York. Dino is still stuck trying piece together a roster with leftover recruits from the Big10 and ACC. The Cuse may have momentum on the field, but once they get recruits on campus, it’s all over. Any 4* player with a shred of sense spends his entire visit to Syracuse on the phone setting up visits to actual football schools.
In fact, I’ve been told that Dino has instructed his coaches to keep recruits off campus.
Recruit: Hey coach, I’ve been thinking about it, and I want to come check out Syracuse on an official.
Cuse Assistant: (whispers) no,no,no,no,no
Recruit: What was that coach?
Assistant: Nothing, uhm, when do you want to come?
Recruit: I’m thinking the Clemson game coach.
Assistant: (swallows hard, sweat appears on his upper lip) Clemson, sure, sounds...good...let me get with Coach Babers and get it set up.
Assistant: (knocking on Dino’s office) Uhm, Coach, we’ve got a problem.
Dino: What now? Is this about the mold in the locker room? Facilities told me they would get on that as soon as they put another coat of polish on Jim’s toilet seat.
Assistant: No coach, this isn’t about the mold....I just got done talking to a recruit...and he wants to come to campus for the Clemson game.
Dino: (takes a deep breath) That can’t happen.
Assistant: I know coach, but he surprised me, I didn’t know what to say. I told him I’d talk to you and get back with him.
Dino: (rubbing temples) Tell him he can’t come because of the hurricane. Do I have to do everything around here? Tell him we would be happy to host him for the NC State game in October.
Assistant: Uhm...Coach...NC State is an away game.
Dino: (wrings hands and cracks knuckles) I know coach, that’s THE ENTIRE POINT. I thought I told you, NO ON CAMPUS VISITS. Do you remember what happened to the last recruit we had on campus?
Assistant: He got Tetanus from one of the water fountains.
Dino: That’s right, he got Tetanus from one of the water fountains, and things have only gotten worse around here. Look around my office. You see that pipe in the ceiling, that’s a sewage pipe, sometimes it leaks on my desk. Last week I had to get post exposure treatment for rabies after a run in with a rat the size of a terrier in the equipment closet. The dome smells like a sauna saturated in deer chili and lite beer farts. Is that really what you want to show this recruit? Tell him we’ll host him at NC State or tell him he can just go ahead and commit to East Carolina like he’s going to anyway.
Dino: Get out of here, I need to take this.
(picks up phone)
(Assistant walks out of office, but stops to listen at the door)
Dino: I told you Ray, I want out of this frozen hell hole, but there is no way I’m coming to Columbia. Stop calling. I’m busy trying to find someone to patch a hole in my turf, and if you don’t have a turf guy, I don’t have anything to discuss with you. I’m serious Ray, I’m blocking this number just like I blocked the last number. Things are tough here, but I still have my self respect, and I won’t sell that to you for a lake house and Masters tickets.
(slams phone down on desk, leg falls off desk)
I’m ready for this game. The only blemish on last year’s record was “you almost lost to Syracuse” and honestly, I have no rebuttal for that insult. Almost losing to Syracuse is the same as almost losing Rutgers. I don’t care what year it is, or who is playing quarterback, it shouldn’t happen.
This Clemson team gets a chance to right that wrong, just like they did last weekend when “A&M almost beat you last year” got put to rest in the sweltering confines of Death Valley. The Tiger’s “didn’t play that well at the beginning of last season” revenge tour takes its show on the road to a....checks notes....SOLD OUT CARRIER DOME.
Cuse hasn’t been able to sell the dome out since Donovan McNabb led the Orange to a magical (I’m grading on a curve) 8-4 record his senior season. Since then they’ve had a few decent squads but haven’t managed to put enough momentum together to sell out their 49K seat stadium. That is until the Champs roll into town.
I get it, everyone wants a chance to say, “I saw the 2019 Clemson team play.” That’s a sports moment you can’t put a monetary value on. In Central New York, it’s rare to get a chance to see something as glorious and life affirming as Clemson football. I’m glad Clemson football can bring a little light into the gray, rusted, decaying city that is Syracuse, New York....just don’t expect to head back to your abandoned factory and trash barrel fires with a victory.
Syracuse, much like A&M last week, has Clemson’s attention, and that never ends well for the opposition.
See y’all next week.