Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It Was Supposed to Be Christmas Morning...but now its Doomsday

Are you serious Daryl Gross? Really? I'm not throwing a Dr. in front of your name because simply, you don't deserve it with this evalutaion.

How does a Syracuse, a school that ranks 14th in most collegiate football victories of all time hold on to a coach that has put the school through its first TWO 10 loss seasons? Seven wins in three years. Three against BCS teams. Twenty-eight painful losses. Blowouts galore. Attendance plummeting towards the level of preseason basketball contests. The program has become the laughing stock of Division I.

Gross, SU’s glorious AD, said he was going to needed to see progress this year. Great strides were made - 2 less wins, and more painstaking blowout losses. I'm at a loss for words. I'm simply furious.

- Programming note: I have to run out to see a respectable SU program, the basketball team, compete against UMass. Following is a quick and aggressive rundown of why this situation and decision is horrific. If you’re not a Syracuse fan or don’t follow the team, you might have some trouble following my relentless ranting. Sorry, it’s just the heat of the moment and explaining everything would fill up a sorrowful 500 page novel.

I understand Greg Robinson needs to get "his guys" in there to be able to really run his system (although he was left with upperclassmen that went to a bowl game - which not one of Greg's recruits can say). I understand he's dealt with some injuries (but then again who hasn't?). I understand his buyout on the next 2 years of his contract, along with that of his staff, would have been around $3 million.

That being said, the man simply does not appear to be set out to be a head coach. He's even admitted his mid-game adjustments have been poor. His teams can barely function, ranking among the worst teams in Division I in rushing, sacks allowed, sacks, total defense (his specialty coming in as a ‘defensive guru’), and so forth. He is relentlessly optimistic despite all this. He is infuriating. Sure he might be a nice guy, but you have to question his coaching ability. The man has never been a head coach before, and in his first three seasons he has gone 7-28.

OK, so, more arguments to come below, where we’ll tear through how Gross has attempted to spin this to a mostly angry, and dwindling, Syracuse fanbase:

Courtesy of (I’m going to select a few pieces because I’m running out the door):

“As the Director of Athletics for Syracuse University, it is my responsibility to evaluate, assess, and make informed decisions regarding the University's intercollegiate athletic programs”

Thank you Dr. Gross. It’s comforting to hear that you know what you are supposed to do, regardless of whether or not you’re proficient at it.

“Nevertheless, I have set a bar of significant expectations for all of our programs, and like our players, fans, and supporters, I was very disappointed with the outcome of this season, along with our overall record the past three years.”

Join the club. At least you’re getting paid to watch it, not the other way around like us.

"Despite our collective disappointment with this season, those I talked with agreed with me that stability is tremendously important to our program, specifically as it relates to recruiting, and stabilizing and building solid classes of student-athletes”

Are you serious? Truly? There is no reason for any recruit to come to Syracuse at this point, unless they’d want to play right away (which they could do at other schools with decent head coaches, a large fan base, and more exposure). WVU, Cinci, UConn, South Florida and Rutgers are all winning or have shown recent success. Rutgers is expanding its stadium, WVU might play for a national championship, UConn is bolstering its facilities…along with just about every other school. South Florida and Pittsburgh have the bargaining chip of playing in professional stadiums. I could go on forever.
Here at Syracuse we have terrible weather, a concrete block that used to be loud for a stadium (but we’ll pack in maybe 15-20,000 next year) no hope of winning a lot of games, a head coach with no proven collegiate success as the leader of a program, etc. etc. Come on up to the Cuse!

Here are some snippets from Donnie Webb’s interview with Gross on

“I've seen teams with a lot of wins that weren't very good and I've seen teams that I say, this team is close to exploding. I don't like to get into a number of wins. I look for progress”

OK, I mean you are the maestro of sensing things Daryl. Like, for instance, when you hired Robinson and said we’d be competing for a national championship in a few years. Are we still on schedule for next season?

“We [Robinson and I] talked about, where's the continuity? Where's the consistency? Where's the weekly progression of getting better? Were you sound and disciplined? Where are those things? How do you fix them? It was thorough in that regard”

Wow. If you were thorough, you must have seen great consistency in having little to no shot of winning each and every week. Getting better?
Well we regressed from last year, and barely snuck out a win against perennial power Buffalo. Check.
The weekly progression? Well the best win came in week 4, then we lost three straight by a combined margin of 110-42, then we eeked out an 8 point win against Buffalo, then we lost four straight by a combined score of 143-65. Weekly progess? Check.

Were you sound and disciplined? Yes, obviously, ranking in the bottom five in the nation in sacks allowed shows the soundness of our offensive line. Missed tackles galore? Soundness again.
Discipline? Yes, without a doubt. Sticking to our gameplan no matter how poorly it worked. Leaving our place kicker, who hadn’t kicked a ball since 2005, on the field against WVU to run a fake after the whole WVU sideline notified their defense – that’s discipline. Oh, and running nine players out on an extra point try later that game? That’s discipline.
Soundness and discipline. Check.
My evaluation is complete.

“The easy thing is to say, this guy is doing bad and look at the wins and losses and you make a move. In this situation, you have to consider much more. You have to consider, how many gaps are you going to have in your recruiting? Have you given enough talent to show what someone can do? I think it's the right thing to have another class. I like how he recruits”

OK Gross. We’ll consider more. We’ll consider that this recruiting class is full of 2 star recruits. Sure, those services can be deceiving. Robinson has brought in a little talent. But he also hasn’t brought in an offensive line that can block at a high school level. Even if you believe in his recruiting, that’s only part of being a head coach. How about running the team, showing some competency in making adjustments or altering gameplans, or just COMPETING IN GENERAL?

And those other factors. Money, money, money. We get it. SU is a private institution. We can’t use taxpayer dollars to erect new facilities and fund buyouts. But, that being said, enjoy seeing all numbers next year avalanche into the red. I’ve been reading the forums, and just about everyone is ready to hand in their tickets. There were maybe 18,000 people at the Dome against Cincinnati. Things are only going to get worse. Between apparel, parking, concessions, and of course, ticket sales, this program is going to lose millions next year.

Overall, there are many reasons why Robinson shouldn’t have come back. Maybe next year he’ll surprise us with a 5 or 6 win season. But this move alone has alienated a good majority of the fan base. Many of which may never return. The program, which looked so bright from the late 80s up to the early 2000s, has crumbled before our eyes. The program needed a change, a shot in the arm, a coach who could pull recruits with no reason to attend SU by using his name alone. Instead, no change was made, and it looks like the worst stretch in Syracuse football history will continue. Thanks Daryl. I’m just happy that next year, I won’t be on the Hill to see it.

- Pat

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