I'll Be Rooting For Syracuse . . . Next Week

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As many of you know, I am a proud Syracuse grad who roots for his Alma mater in 11 out of 12 weeks.


But not today.


On paper, Cincinnati is the better team and if the Bearcats don't make uncharacteristic mistakes, I'm confident that UC will win.  But I am not taking anything for granted . . . not after witnessing what Syracuse fans simply refer to as "the Nebraska game."


SU Neb re.jpg 

In 1983 when I was a junior, SU played at Nebraska and lost 63-7.  The following season, the Cornhuskers were ranked #1 in the country when they made the return trip to the Carrier Dome and were a 24-point favorite against a Syracuse team that had been shutout by Rutgers the week before.


Syracuse pulled off the shocker 17-9 (here is the game story from Sports Illustrated).  It was SU's only win during a 5-week stretch.


Syracuse's new head coach Doug Marrone was a starting offensive lineman in that game and told a great story about it to one of my college buddies - New York Daily News reporter Rich Cimini:


On the eve of the Syracuse-Nebraska game in 1984, then coach Dick MacPherson, reaching deep into his bag of motivational tricks, told each player to go back to his room and write an essay. The thesis: Why we're going to beat Nebraska. Please understand, Syracuse was at least a three-touchdown underdog, if memory serves, and there was no logical reason to think it would be a competitive game, much less an upset.


Naturally, MacPherson's request, somewhat sophomoric, was met with some reluctance. Marrone, the dutiful captain, went to his room, pulled out a few sheets of loose leaf and started writing. He got into it and kept writing. And writing. And soon several pages were filled. By the end of his handwritten pep talk, Marrone was so full of emotion and adrenaline that tears were welling in his eyes.


The next day, Syracuse went out and beat Nebraska. Final score: 17-9. You can look it up.


"I was absolutely convinced we were going to win that game," Marrone told me once, probably feeling those old, familiar goose bumps as he related the story.


Kinda makes you wonder if Marrone had his players write essays last night doesn't it?

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