LoGiurato: Colgate matchup marks distinct shift from Gross’ past schedule remarks

first_img Comments Let’s take a trip down memory lane. In 2007, Daryl Gross was three years into his athletic director post at Syracuse. He had three years to take in Big East football after his move from Southern California. With Pete Carroll at the helm of USC and the Trojans a national powerhouse, Gross designed a non-conference schedule full of similarly ambitioned opponents to USC. He soon found out he couldn’t do the same at SU. Running a program in turmoil under then-head coach Greg Robinson, Gross realized he would have to take a different approach to scheduling. And so, in an interview with The Daily Orange three years ago, he even said making a date with a Division I-AA team — or, as the division is now known, FCS — would be a possibility. One of them. ‘I think I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) is very considerable,’ Gross told The D.O. in an article published on Nov. 8, 2007. ‘I wouldn’t want to see two I-AA’s on our schedule. But I think one is more than reasonable, especially when we’re growing this program.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text And here we are, three years later. The Orange is gearing up for its fourth game of the season, trying for its best start to a season since 2003. And it is preparing to do so against an opponent coming to the Carrier Dome — Colgate — that is, of course, its second FCS opponent in as many weeks. Behind all the glitz of history with Colgate, behind all the preparation for ‘Alabama,’ and behind all the ‘Maine is a heck of a team’ clamor, there is one telling proclamation behind the two weeks of bold, illustrious proclamations about subpar teams. And it comes straight from the horse’s mouth. ‘We really didn’t have a lot of options,’ SU head coach Doug Marrone said Monday, ‘on what we could do with our schedule.’ And so, sometime in early April, Colgate Athletic Director David Roach got a call from the SU administration. Was he surprised? Not really. Just excited for the possibility. Were they apprehensive? Not really. Just a bit desperate. ‘It was late,’ Roach said. ‘I’m not sure that there were many other opportunities for them. We were happy that they did (call), and it’s been something that has caused quite a bit of excitement.’ And why not? There’s the excitement that goes along with bringing back a rivalry of the past that hadn’t been seen in 23 years. But that’s because Colgate football and Syracuse football have taken very different paths in those 23 years. Colgate downgraded from Division I-A to Division I-AA in 1982. The Raiders have found great success since the move down, but there’s a reason the team made the move in the first place. They couldn’t compete at the FBS level anymore. Colgate does not offer football scholarships to its players. Only need-based financial aid, per Patriot League football rules. That could change come December. ‘The Patriot League is trying to decide whether it will allow football scholarships,’ Roach said. ‘If we do, then (Colgate) would want to play one FCS team per year. And we would think about playing Army, Navy, Duke and maybe, occasionally, Syracuse.’ From desperation on one end of the phone to a potential program alteration on the other. Upon adding Colgate to the schedule, Syracuse had nothing to gain and everything to lose. That all changed this week when, by some miracle — actually, by the ineptitude of FBS college football teams — SU’s road to a bowl may have been repaved. With an additional bowl on the schedule this season, there is concern there will not be enough traditional bowl-eligible teams to fill all the spots. This led the NCAA to consider two options: adding five-win teams, or six-win teams with two wins over FCS teams, to the bowl field. Nick Carparelli, the chair of the NCAA committee that would determine the next step, said Thursday that discussions are still ongoing. Still, there is apprehension on the committee’s part. ‘That’s just the current rule as it is,’ Carparelli said of the six wins against non-FCS opponents currently needed for bowl-eligibility. ‘As you know, all NCAA rules are voted on by the entire membership. … So there’s a reason it’s there.’ Four games in, off to the best start in seven years, we still won’t know much about the current Syracuse football team at the end of Saturday. The team will be 3-1, with the entire Big East and the other relevant non-conference opponent Gross managed to schedule — Boston College — still left on its slate. But if the season shakes out like it should across the nation, Syracuse will be one-half of the way to that illustrious bowl appearance. Gross did not return multiple calls for comment for this story. But Syracuse’s path to a bowl thus far brings up another point Gross mentioned three years ago. ‘Some people have the model to play some bad people to get into the bowl game,’ he said then. ‘But if your goal is to just get to the bowl game, that’s fine. I can figure out a way to do that, too. I think we want a bigger picture, too.’ Brett LoGiurato is an assistant sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on September 23, 2010 at 12:00 pmlast_img

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