Restoring the Passion
My phone started blowing up about 1:20 yesterday afternoon.
Friends know my allegiance runs strong to the Orange. So all of a sudden, they all started texting me with messages about my Orange and the what a great win this was going to be.
But somehow no matter how large the lead got, I didn't couldn't get excited. Instead, I found myself frustrated. Frustrated that this performance was so rare. Ok maybe the win against UCONN several weeks ago was similar, but that still had mistakes.
I came to realize that this Syracuse team without the turnovers and the penalties that had halted so many drives this year wasn't the team we were watching. And all of a sudden I started counting the wins that this team would have won.
Last week's error plagued loss at Cincinnati immediately came to mind. And I thought with that win, could this team really be a BCS bowl contender. Because without that loss they would have been in a three-way tie with Rutgers and Louisville at the top.
Oh yeah, Rutgers. That game would have been a win too. No way this team, this flawless team would have lost that game. 4 turnovers were the big factor that day - and that blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. The 7 penalties probably didn't help.
So then I thought, wow undefeated in the Big East, what a great way to leave the Big East that would be. And then the mind wandered in another direction. The conference games weren't the only thing that could have changed. The non-conference games were far from error free.
At the time, we alll thought USC was a good loss. Or at least explainable. But in hindsight 12 penalties probably could have made a difference when the game was 21-16 entering the fourth quarter.
And those two losses against the Big Ten were very similar. Many blame the late personal foul that wasn't a penalty for the Northwestern loss. But 3 Turnovers and 12 penalties probably had as much to do with it as anything.
The trip to Minnesota showed a lackluster performance. With it came 10 penalties and 4 turnovers.
The mistakes have been well chronicled but I didn't really realize what they fully cost this team.
This same team that was on the screen in front of me throttling the last unbeaten the Big East knew. The same team that was clawing just to get back to .500. The same team that needed to win 2 of 3 down the stretch just to be one of 70 teams to play in a bowl game.
So I checked Facebook and many of my SU friends who were so disappointed to go 9-3 or 8-4 every year were happy. Happy just to be getting back to .500.
I realized exactly how jaded I was. And I realized that if this team could change, morph out of the team that it was, to the team that it could should have been, then I could should change.
I never lost the allegiance. I still spent fall Saturdays watching, hoping, cheering but somehow it didn't seem the same.
But I realized something during that game yesterday. The passion is back. And so is Syracuse football.
No matter what happens next week.