Doug Marrone has confirmed that the Swartzwalder Trophy will not be up for grabs when Syracuse takes on West Virginia in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 29. The news is disappointing to Syracuse and West Virginia fans alike, who ended their yearly series with each other when West Virginia left the Big East for the Big XII a year ago. Syracuse won the trophy in 2010, and successfully defended it last season with a dominant victory in the Carrier Dome over the Mountaineers 49-23.
The news is disappointing for fans, as it would have definitely brought more interest and attention to the game since there is no timetable for when the two teams will play each other again. The two teams have competed for the Schwartzwalder Trophy 59 times, including 57 straight seasons. Syracuse leads the all-time series 32-27.
When hearing the news, my first thought was why wouldn’t Syracuse put the trophy up for grabs? There are so many factors and logistics that go in to bowl games in regards to money and sponsorships, so one would look at that as the primary factor for this decision. But why would that get in the way of a rivalry trophy? Last time I checked, the Schwartzwalder Trophy has no sponsorship, so how can it possibly be dictated by an outside factor like New Era or Steiner Sports? The people who are concerned with them are the bowl itself and ESPN whom the bowl has a contract with. If the Schwartzwalder Trophy were put up for grabs between the two teams and ESPN didn’t talk about or report anything on it, then I could hear that argument. Otherwise, it is complete nonsense.
Or so I thought:
“One of the things about playing in a bowl game that I think we should all be conscious of – right to the right of us right there – is the Steinbrenner Trophy,” Marrone said. “That’s why both teams are here. I think that it is very important that we all understand that – at least from my end, our university, our fans.”
So there you have it. The focus should be 100% on the George Steinbrenner trophy. You know, the one with the shiny New Era logo on it. Syracuse was selected over Pittsburgh because they will put more fans in the crowd, have a better record, and beat the Panthers head to head this season. However, one now has to wonder if it were a factor that Syracuse was selected over Pittsburgh for the fact that it would be easier to put focus on the game and their trophy, rather than the rivalry. The West Virginia-Pittsburgh rivalry have been much more heated in recent years, which originally was a reason why fans speculated the Panthers would have gotten the nod over the Orange. The Schwartzwalder Trophy is important to both fan bases, but West Virginia fans would take a win over Pitt 10 times out of 10 if given the choice between the two.
Regardless of the reason, it sucks that the trophy won’t be on the line December 29. It is the lone rivalry trophy that Syracuse football is apart of, and if the shoe were on the other foot and West Virginia wouldn’t put the trophy up for grabs Orange fans would be screaming from the mountain top about it. I find it difficult to believe or accept that Syracuse simply didn’t want to put the trophy up for grabs, so I’m sticking with my conspiracy theory that the bowl game has something to do with all of this.
What do you think? Did Syracuse wimp out, or did an outside factor dictate this entire situation?