I understand that the 2007 Syracuse football pre-season camp just opened today. I am also keenly aware that the Syracuse football program's fall from grace has been precipitous and has resulted in disinterest from the community at large (despite the best efforts of the school's marketing gurus) and dwindling home attendance in a era where interest in college football is growing almost faster than any other sport. I get all of that. What I don't get is why the Syracuse media is helping perpetuate this disinterest by not uttering an f'n peep (before today) about the prospects of this year's Syracuse Football team.
According to syracuse.com (the major online sports coverage outlet for Syracuse football), the staff at the Post-Standard has written 13 articles related to Syracuse football since July 11th (three of those appeared in today's issue). Of those 13, 3 articles were about former players, one was about the marriage of Syracuse AD, Daryl Groos and one was about Syracuse pulling out of the Wyoming game (a move deserving of an entirely separate post). So there were about 8 articles in the last month that even tangentially related to the onfield play of the 2007 Syracuse Orangemen (as noted in a previous post, I refuse to call them "The Orange"). The Post-Standard also features about a dozen or blog posts from their main staff as well as a tolerable (increasingly so) blog from "The Axeman." Just as a comparison, the Newark Star-Ledger has put out 10 articles about Rutgers football since July 31st (not to mention that even the bad teams in the SEC and Big Twelve have averaged about 6 articles per day in their locals). AND THERE ARE OTHER TEAMS TO COVER IN NEWARK! The real kicker came yesterday when the Post-Standard was beaten to the punch with the story about the potential new Syracuse Football Stadium. When you are the leading newspaper for the team and you aren't the ones getting the emails and phone calls when something this major comes up, something is horribly wrong. I understand that Rutgers football is coming off their greatest season ever and are considered "on the map" in terms of recruiting classes and coaching staff, but they're still "Rutgers" and Syracuse should never get outworked by anything Rutgers. But that's what's happening today, and it's not even close.
You see, in today's college football landscape, half the battle is branding. You need to successfully brand your product in order to remain hip and relevant. This is the only way to get recruits. In the time before every college football team was on TV via the Colleg Football package, Syracuse was one of the few teams that appeared to a large audience all the time. They were the northeast's regional D1 team and EVERYONE in the tri-state area wanted to go to either Syracuse or Notre Dame because those were the two teams they saw on TV. Now that you can see every team, that advantage is gone. You now need to re-brand and gain new viewers and a renewed interest in the program. In many ways, Syracuse has been on the cutting edge of this new "branding" landscape. They are never afraid to change a uniform or try and gain access to new revenue sources (Gross has been especially on the ball in trying to gain access to NYC with the 1050am ESPN radio deal and Times Square Ads and the like). Greg Robinson is a great face for the organization and his tireless enthusiasm will go a long way towards creating a successful brand. Obviously this will all go to waste if they continue putting a crappy product on the field. No one will want to come to play for Syracuse and more importantly no one will want to watch. But in a new year with a new QB and some players that Robinson actually recruited, there is reason for enthusiasm. Sadly, there is no enthusiasm. And the reason for this lack of interest is the coverage (or lack thereof) provided by the Syracuse Post-Standard. It needs to change. And it wouldn't be all that hard to change it.
Despite the last couple of years and slow ticket sales, there is a demand for information about this year's Syracuse Football team. I know because I've emailed with friends from Boston, Northern New York and NYC who can't wait to catch a game this year. The Post-Standard's Forum on Syracuse Football (a message board hosted by The Post-Standard) gets 1000's of posts per day about this Syracuse football team. Friday, August 31st, there will be a season opening party for the 'Cuse v. U Wash game in Sunnyside, NY (sorry, the venue is sold out). This is all happening despite the fact that we don't know the names of this year's starting defensive backfield or any of the backstory about the guys protecting A-Rob or the youngsters on either side of Taj Smith who'll be A-Rob's targets. What's the RB depth looking like now that Carter is likely out for the season (and his career)? Can Dantley really push Robinson for the starting job and are Legree and Catalina really as solid as they were professed to be? Is Bud Tribbey going to start from day one? Are Doug Hogue and Jermaine Pierce the future of our offense and defense respectively? There is a ton going on with this team and the Post-Standard is not mentioning any of it.
I know these things will be clarified as camp begins and I'm aware that you can't create stories out of thin air, but we want something. Throw us a bone. We want to learn about this team and find a reason to root for the players. Some of us are excited about this season. We give a shit. It would be nice if the paper responsible for covering the team shared that sentiment.