For most fans of Syracuse Orange sports or anything for that matter, it all started with one game, one person o..."/> For most fans of Syracuse Orange sports or anything for that matter, it all started with one game, one person o..."/> For most fans of Syracuse Orange sports or anything for that matter, it all started with one game, one person o..."/>

Syracuse Orange: What are your ‘Cuse football and basketball moments?

Syracuse Orange (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Syracuse Orange (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /
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For most fans of Syracuse Orange sports or anything for that matter, it all started with one game, one person or one moment. Maybe you can see it vividly still years later or maybe it was just a certain style of play.

For me, when it came to ‘Cuse basketball, it wasn’t necessarily a particular moment but the rivalry between Syracuse and Georgetown. I do think the Michael Graham/Andre Hawkins and Pearl/Ewing “fights” and heated press conferences fueled it so maybe those moments helped but it was the desire to beat Georgetown that made me a passionate fan. I hated them and we had to beat them.

For most other sports, aside from football, it was just that Syracuse University was my home team and my dream school and I knew I was going to love them. I knew I’d root for them to win at anything and if I could watch it or participate in any way, I gladly would.

What are your most vivid Syracuse Orange sports moments?

I would gladly throw on my ‘Cuse outfit and cheer for any Syracuse Orange program. Heck, I’ll gladly go to a rowing event and chant “Let’s Go Orange” throughout the race if I could.

And as for ‘Cuse football, as a 50-year-old man now, I look back on two things especially that shaped me to become the fan I am. Both are equally important to me and how I view the program and maybe why I’m passionate about certain things.

First, I can’t tell you a specific date but I remember in the late 80s when a former Syracuse running back wore a 44 jersey. I was at my grandparents’ house and my grandfather and father and I talked about the legacy of the 44. My grandfather talked about following the stories of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little and how great they were.

We also talked about the cool idea of passing it down to the next player who wants to wear it and honor the tradition it had become. We never said they had to be those legendary players but loved seeing the tradition continue and seeing just who would wear it.

Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate that I think the retirement of the jersey was disappointing. To some I guess, they thought it was correcting a wrong but to me it was ending a tradition and an era that made me the fan I am.

Well, there was also the 1987 Syracuse football season. Whenever I’m asked to name my favorite Syracuse football player of all time, it will always be quarterback Don McPherson. His work off the field is amazing but his work along with the staff and his teammates definitely at least aided in my passion.

That season had a lot to love. Beating ranked Penn State 48-21, which was equally huge back then as many looked at Penn State as a rival during the independent years. Coming back to win with 10 seconds left in the game and a two-point conversion to beat West Virginia in the final regular game of the season was huge and emotional.

But at least Syracuse went for two and didn’t settle for the tie. And yes I’m still bitter about the 1988 Sugar Bowl tie against Auburn because I thought Syracuse could have been national champions. I was young, naive and loved my Orangemen and believed we were.

Sure they never ranked above 4th in the polls, which is also where they finished, but I still thought we deserved it and those who voted in the polls (and coaches who went for ties) were wrong.

But even with that tie to end it, the ride that season gave me was so memorable and fulfilling. It was a season I didn’t have to worry about the “Syracuse stinks” crowd as much that made my life less enjoyable at this time.

I just wanted to wear my Syracuse Orange attire, without hearing from random people telling me how bad they were, and enjoy being a fan and that gave me the confidence to do so.

But those are my “Syracuse moments,” what are yours? Did you watch it with a parent and bond over Syracuse sports? Did you attend Syracuse in 2003 and remember the celebration? Did you meet Coach P at the BJ’s on Bridge Street and he was so nice you became a fan?

What is your Syracuse Orange moment where you knew you were a fan for life?

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