I generally write The Vent from the first-person plural, because it's supposed to represent SIOC's views and not merely my own. But today's topic is close to my heart, so I feel compelled to swap in "I" for "we."
On Sunday, my alma mater Syracuse fired fourth-year football coach Greg Robinson. After watching Robinson lead the Orange to a paltry 9-36 record (3-25 Big East) in three-plus seasons, few 'Cuse fans were sorry to see him go. Now, instead of dwelling on an era in which Brendan Carney and Rob Long punts were the best 'Cuse football had to offer, fans are shifting their focus to the future, and to Robinson's replacement.
On Monday, however, college football writer Stewart Mandel posed a simple question to SI.com readers: "Who's dumb enough to coach 'Cuse?"
Not entirely unfair, but a tad harsh, I think we can agree.
Stew makes some good points. The fans are apathetic, the recruits have gone elsewhere and the weather's cold. But while it may seem like the Syracuse ship is so deeply mired in mediocrity that coaching candidates like Turner Gill and Lane Kiffin would be fools to grab the wheel, this is still a job worth taking.
For starters, the present situation's bleak, but the tradition's not dead -- and since 2005, the athletic administration has done everything in its power to make sure 'Cuse fans remember that. Critics need only pop into the Dome this winter to see what was (it's hard to miss the mammoth "Jim Brown: Greatest Player Ever" banner and the baseball tarp-sized No. 44 retired football jersey, which pays homage to Brown and fellow running backs Ernie Davis and Floyd Little) and what can be (those rowdy, orange-clad basketball fans will come out for football, too … once there's something to see).
Speaking of the athletic administration, that's another pro. Sure, athletic director Daryl Gross is one of the more polarizing figures in Syracuse sports history, but he was brought in to fix football, plain and simple. The man credited with bringing Pete Carroll to USC can surely do better than this, or at least kill himself trying. The days of sliding by on improving non-revenue sports are over, and prospective coaches should want to work for a man whose main focus will be the program they'd inherit.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly: This is the Big East we're talking about, folks. Syracuse finished in a four-way tie for the conference championship in 2004 with a 6-6 overall record (4-2 Big East). Pretty underwhelming. Cincinnati's probably going to take the conference crown this season with 10 wins. While the Bearcats are a respectable squad capable of winning 11 games, this is a small conference without elite teams. Pitt's always a wildcard, traditional powers West Virginia and Louisville are down and an admittedly injury-depleted South Florida squad has simply fallen off the radar. There aren't Texas-, Florida- and USC-caliber teams standing in the way.
So any intrigued coaches should take solace that not all hope is lost in CNY. And just think, whoever turns this thing around might get his very own "Greatest Coach Ever" banner. We're not big on subtlety at 'Cuse, but we're ready to be big on football once again.
But as always, you, the readers, will get the final say. Should anyone want this job?