Syracuse Football: 5-star Kyle McCord wanted to come home, be appreciated, per Fran Brown

Ohio State junior quarterback Kyle McCord has transferred to Syracuse football, which is closer to his New Jersey hometown.
Ohio State junior quarterback Kyle McCord has transferred to Syracuse football, which is closer to his New Jersey hometown. / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After word broke that Ohio State junior quarterback Kyle McCord would transfer to Syracuse football, some national commentators found that move to be a head-scratcher.

On the face of it, I get that sort of sentiment. McCord had a solid 2023 season for the Buckeyes, a Big Ten Conference powerhouse that has amassed an 11-1 record and will face Missouri in a top-10 battle at the Cotton Bowl.

So the 6-foot-3, 215-pound McCord, a five-star prep recruit and a four-star transfer, decided to depart Ohio State for a ‘Cuse program that went 6-7 in 2023 and is nowhere near the stature of the Buckeyes on a national scale.

But as I noted in another recent column, after ESPN’s Paul Finebaum in essence trashed McCord’s decision, you’ve got to dig much deeper to understand the thinking behind his transfer from Ohio State to Syracuse football.

And in a press conference last Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period, Fran Brown went into some detail to shed light on why McCord will suit up in his senior year for the Orange.

Head coach Fran Brown dished on Kyle McCord coming to Syracuse football.

McCord, who played at the St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, is from Mount Laurel, N.J. Several ‘Cuse coaches, including Brown, are from New Jersey.

According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, McCord has known Brown and ‘Cuse quarterbacks coach Nunzio Campanile for a decade. Thamel adds that McCord also has “deep ties” to New York Giants’ running backs coach Jeff Nixon, who will be the Orange’s offensive coordinator.

In his recent presser, Brown said that McCord wanted to come back home. New Jersey is, of course, closer to Syracuse than Columbus, Ohio.

When McCord, who threw for 3,170 yards and 24 touchdowns against just six interceptions as a junior, entered the transfer portal in early December, Brown says that the Orange was a potential option on his mind.

Conversations began between Brown, his staff and McCord, and they started talking a lot. McCord would take an official visit to the ‘Cuse earlier this month before news broke that he would transfer to Syracuse football.

Brown says he’s known McCord since he was in little league football and that McCord has “played with our offensive coordinator’s son.”

Brown added, “I’ve known Kyle’s father, his father and my wife worked in the same hospital when she was finishing up her clinicals."

With all of that as context – something that perhaps national observers didn’t know or failed to mention in their lazy commentary – Brown noted that the ‘Cuse pursuing McCord, and him ultimately pledging to the Orange program, wasn’t so out of left field as folks assumed.

The Syracuse football head coach said that in addition to coming back home, McCord wanted to go somewhere he “would be truly appreciated.”

With Brown and his staff doing terrific things on the recruiting trail, the buzz surrounding the ‘Cuse is undeniable. Brown has high ambitions for the Orange, and he wants to turn Syracuse football into “a program and not just a team.”

To that end, Brown said that he didn’t think there was another quarterback around the country who could come in and help the ‘Cuse achieve Brown’s objective better than McCord.

Last Sunday, after he committed to Syracuse football, I noted that McCord is the team’s highest-rated player in many years. Some national “experts” may not understand his decision, or they may question it.

But as Brown has outlined, there are a lot of reasons why McCord’s decision to transfer to the ‘Cuse makes sense. And he will be a pivotal piece to the Orange’s roster in 2024, as Syracuse football aims for the top-tier of the Atlantic Coast Conference pecking order.

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