Fran Brown believes Northeast teams, like Syracuse football, can win national titles

In an ESPN interview, head coach Fran Brown says Northeast schools like Syracuse football can compete for national titles.
In an ESPN interview, head coach Fran Brown says Northeast schools like Syracuse football can compete for national titles. / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past 15 to 20 years, squads from the south have claimed the vast majority of national championships, but Syracuse football head coach Fran Brown believes that schools from the Northeast, such as the Orange, can capture the ultimate grand prize and win the College Football Playoff.

Brown recently was the subject of an intriguing article by the great ESPN writer, Andrea Adelson. I highly encourage you to carve out some time and read it in full.

Adelson's piece touches on how Brown came to get the head-coaching gig on the Hill, despite never having previously served as a head coach or a coordinator in a major conference. Adelson hears from SU athletic director John Wildhack, rising senior quarterback Kyle McCord, a four-star transfer from Ohio State, several of Brown's assistants, and of course Brown himself.

One thing that stood out to me is how Brown and his top-flight staff, with their recruiting efforts, spring practices, the annual spring game in April and community initiatives have brought a palpable buzz to Central New York related to Syracuse football, before Brown has actually had a chance to coach his first game on the Hill.

According to Wildhack, per Adelson's story, "donors have stepped up to improve their NIL efforts," the team experienced record attendance for the spring game, and season ticket sales and renewals are moving along at a strong pace.

"It's been phenomenal," Wildhack told Adelson. "I've not seen anything like it in my time here, just how he has energized the community, our fan base, our football alums."

Head coach Fran Brown dishes on what it will take to make Syracuse football consistently relevant again.

What Brown and his assistants have done on the recruiting trail since officially taking over the program in early December of last year is remarkable. The Orange's 2024 class at the high school level is in the top 40 nationally, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite.

The team's 2024 cycle via the transfer portal, led by four-stars such as McCord, Texas A&M edge Fadil Diggs and others, is in the top 10 nationwide on the On3 Web site. Further out, the 'Cuse has at least 19 verbal commitments in 2025 and at least three verbal pledges in 2026, with both of those classes currently in the top 10 around the country.

Of course, how this recruiting prowess instilled by Brown will translate on the field remains to be seen, although with a seemingly manageable 2024 schedule, some national and Atlantic Coast Conference pundits believe that the 'Cuse can make noise in the league and perhaps even nationally this coming term.

Over the past two seasons, the Orange has made consecutive bowl games for the first time in about a decade, while going a combined 13-13 overall. But the issue in 2022 and 2023 is that Syracuse football raced out to fast starts then faltered down the stretch.

Brown, per Adelson's article, recognizes that for the 'Cuse to be a consistent player on the national stage, it can't repeat the pattern of the past two campaigns.

And even though, save for Ohio State in 2014 and Michigan in 2023, teams from down south have won every national title since 2006, as Adelson points out, Brown steadfastly believes that schools from the Northeast, including the Orange, can compete for and win national championships.

In Adelson's story and in other interviews, Brown has downplayed the notion that a team like Syracuse football can't compete with the sport's heavyweight programs, including his former employer, Southeastern Conference powerhouse Georgia, when it comes to the transfer portal and name, image and likeness opportunities.

"How can you say we don't have what they have?" Brown said to Adelson. "You've got to talk to the players to see what they want, and if I'm developing you the right way, are you going to leave here for $20,000? Is that all you're looking at your future to be about?"

He added in part, "We all have the same opportunity. Just figure out how to get it done."

We'll know in a few months how the Orange will fare on the field in the 2024 season, but for the time being, Brown is confident that the 'Cuse can do stellar things. I, for one, adamantly believe him.

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