It’s almost as if the collective college football world opened its arms to give Syracuse a hug. A gesture to welcome them back to the party that they had been missing out on for so long. Every Syracuse fan knows, it had been since the end of the 2001 season that the Orange had a number next to their name.
There have been ups although there have mostly been downs over those 16 full seasons in which the Orange won just 71 games— 4.4 per season. The program fired Coach P. They hired GRob. Things looked like they were on the rise before Doug Marrone bolted for the NFL. Shafer was in over his head. And then came Dino Babers.
Dino Babers is the guy after all these years that has brought Syracuse football “back.” Now, the Orange may not be back to the level that all fans might want, but for all intents and purposes, Syracuse is back on the national stage. They are relevant for the first time in a long time. Not just a blip with an upset win or an appearance in a bowl game, of which there have been just 4 in this AP Poll drought.
No, Syracuse is ranked. Syracuse is in the national conversation after 5 wins and holding a fourth quarter lead over a dominant Clemson team. Syracuse is bowl eligible after just 8 weeks, reaching the 6 win mark for the first time since 2013.
The job Dino Babers has done should be commended. He has come in and done almost exactly what he promised. He runs a high flying fun offensive system, a defense that made just enough stops when they needed them on Saturday night, and overall runs a very well coached team.
When Dino was hired, he asked for faith. “Belief without evidence,” he called it. Last year, fans got a bit of that evidence when the Orange beat Clemson. This year, you got more. This year it felt like each week to start the season showed you more proof, more evidence that Dino had the program on the right track.
Obviously, the hope is that this is the first step. That 6 wins and a top 25 ranking is just the start of an 8 or 9 or more win season and the start of a long run of success. But for now, the Orange is ranked for the first time since 2001. It feels like the Orange is finally back on the national stage, a team that will garner some kind of recognition as they move forward. A team good enough to host a Saturday night primetime game. A team that’s good enough that there will probably be strong consideration to host GameDay at Yankee Stadium when SU plays Notre Dame there later this season.
Saturday night and the poll reveals on Sunday were the national college football community opening its arms. Syracuse football is back.