Monday, March 8, 2010

Be Proud Orange Nation; Stop The Hate

It seems as though many Syracuse fans have become accustomed to finding the negative in every situation. Win or lose, I constantly hear and see on message boards and other social media outlets all of these negative comments and personal attacks on people that would lead me to pull out my own hair in frustration, if I had any left that is.

I understand that Syracuse sports have struggled at times in some areas but in general, Syracuse has one of the best athletic departments as a whole in the country. Even when they do struggle, why is it that some prefer to attack them when they are down instead of trying to show faith that it will turn around? Sadly, these are also some of the loudest when we win and their inconsistency has a negative impact on the fan base as a whole.

Now, I could choose to hammer them for being too negative and post lessons on how to handle it but I would rather I give you reasons why you should see the positives in following the Syracuse Orange. Yes, I see the world through orange colored glasses and I love the view but if you call yourself a fan, shouldn't you? Let's just review why I think you should keep the faith no matter the result of one game or even one season.

Let's start with the favorite target of many, the Syracuse football team. This team is rich in tradition and has produced many great NFL players and some who excelled at the college level enough that we as fans will never forget their names. Granted, last year this team finished at 4-8 and that is not an ideal situation for anyone. However, they did accomplish some achievements that we as fans should be proud of under Coach Doug Marrone's first year as head coach. My favorite was the win over Rutgers 31-13 and the huge smile that win put on my face. Sure, we lost to Louisville by one point in an ugly game that we should have won and lost to Minnesota when we had a chance to win that as well but that just means we were in them and one right bounce and this team finishes 6-6 and possibly goes to a bowl game. Let's also keep in mind that in comparison, Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez was 3-9 in his first season and suddenly that does not look so bad (Syracuse was 1-2 against Big Ten teams and could have easily been 2-1 if you want to compare how they may have done in similar conferences). And to show a lot of heart and not give up as Mike Williams left the team and Greg Paulus struggled at times at QB shows me this is a team to follow and be proud of. And just think, we may have lost Arthur Jones and a good senior class but we still have DC3, Nassib and of course, the man who will shut it down on the football field, Shamarko. For the record, two weeks from tonight, Spring practice begins and September 4th, the season starts at Akron so let the excitement build as well.

I know for many outside of Syracuse, lacrosse is not a big time sports program. But this is Syracuse and it is part of our tradition. Syracuse lacrosse means legends in the sport like Brown, Simmons, Gait, Powell, Desko and so many others that have made a major impact on the sport. This season, the men return to the field as defending champions again after one of the greatest endings of a national championship game in any sport. The women's team is coached by one of the greatest to ever play the game, the former Orangeman great Gary Gait who is building a perennial powerhouse and establishing themselves as a top tier program in the country. We may have lost Katie Rowan off the field (she is a volunteer assistant coach this season though so that can only help) but we still have Quillinan, Ladouceur, and a freshman with a last name Orange fans should recognize in Nims, whose father Tom played there and some brother named Kenny did as well (who have three national championships already in the family).

And yes ladies and gentlemen, we have basketball as well. On the ladies side, we have Coach Q (@CoachQAtSU on Twitter) who has this team on a positive track, finishing this season 22-10. True, we are losing Nicole "Slinky" Michael and Juanita Ward as they are seniors this season but we still have talented players like Erica Morrow, Tasha Harris and at center, a freshman with skills, Kayla Alexander. This program is showing signs that they can be a tough team to beat in the Big East and be a school those who want to play against UConn can come to show off their skills.

And last but not least, let's talk the favorite it seems among most, the men's basketball program. You know, that team that was picked by many to finish 6th at best in the Big East by many experts and yet, finished 28-3 in the regular season to win the Big East Season Title outright. They had a few bumps along the way and lost to Pitt at home and Louisville swept them and lost some meaningless preseason game as well. However along the way, they also swept Georgetown (which makes this Hoya Hater proud), defeated UConn, and crushed Villanova before a sell out crowd at the Carrier Dome, after which earned them a #1 ranking for the first time in years and even after that last loss to Louisville, remain among the top 3 in the country in the polls. That means only two other teams in the country have better records than them and that means hundreds of other teams were not as good. Many fans and media alike have tried to point to weakness in schedule (due to UNC and Florida having down years) and scheduling no real road games but I would ask what they were smoking if you do not consider wins at Washington DC, South Bend and Morgantown, WV real road wins (and the Florida win was in Tampa which last I checked was closer to Gainsville than Syracuse and even in a down year, is still not an easy win). And despite finally telling the critics who have said that for years some crow to taste, Syracuse proved it belongs to be mentioned as one of the best in the country and if you do not believe me, ask Coach Bobby Knight. Did I mention that this team has Andy Rautins, one of the best 6th men in the country in KrisJo and a contender for national/Big East player of the year in Wes Johnson? And one other thing, this team has been blessed for 34 seasons now to be coached by a Hall Of Fame guy who not only played here but has a record of 827-291 and never coached a losing season in his spectacular coaching career, one James Arthur Boeheim II.

In all fairness, I understand at times that we as fans get frustrated when we expect great things out of our teams but we have to remember that these are our expectations and these players are humans who make mistakes as well. Teams and programs go through times of struggle but nobody will ever consistently be undefeated from year to year. So why do we even try to put that type of pressure on a team that we love to support like the Syracuse Orangemen?

Pointing out flaws in their game does not make you a bad fan and neither does feel dejected after a loss but cursing out players and coaches, saying they suck and having that "sky is falling" mentality does not make you a supportive fan either. Sometimes we just need to step back before over reacting out of frustration and realize none of us are perfect and the reason we enjoy watching it is to find pleasure in something.

So be proud Orange Nation and support those who do their best to represent you and our university proudly. I was born a Syracuse fan and raised in SU country and I will be damned if one game or play will stop me. It is my whole hearted intention to include these words among my last spoken on this Earth, "GO ORANGE!" although I promise my family I will also do my best to include my goodbyes to you as well. When I die, it is my wish to be buried in my Syracuse #44 football jersey with a smile on my face in an orange casket with a Syracuse game playing in the background as people visit my services. So don't be afraid to shout Let's Go Orange, blast Shut It Down on your speakers and show your pride in our colors no matter what the end result may be that day because we all win for supporting the awesomeness that is the Syracuse University Orangemen/Orangewomen.

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