Syracuse Football: Paul Finebaum’s comments on QB Kyle McCord obnoxious, ignorant

Ohio State junior quarterback Kyle McCord, a four-star transfer, committed to Syracuse football over the weekend.
Ohio State junior quarterback Kyle McCord, a four-star transfer, committed to Syracuse football over the weekend. / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse football fans, understandably so, are up in arms about comments made by ESPN commentator Paul Finebaum on Monday regarding the decision by Ohio State quarterback transfer Kyle McCord to commit to the Orange over the weekend.

According to media reports, including this article from On3’s Kaiden Smith, Finebaum discussed McCord during a Monday appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Finebaum said that he thought the 6-foot-3, 215-pound McCord, a junior with the Big Ten Conference’s Buckeyes, would end up heading to a “major school,” adding, “Syracuse is an utterly perplexing decision.”

Finebaum, who is the host of The Paul Finebaum Show, went on to say, “It’s a program (‘Cuse) that quite frankly doesn’t have a great path of coming back quickly. I appreciate him getting another opportunity, but a year ago this guy was considered all-everything, a can’t miss and now he’s going to Syracuse. It’s weird.”

While I acknowledge that Finebaum is way more of a college football expert than I am, and I respect his opinions, at the same time, I adamantly disagree with his assessment of McCord’s decision to play for Syracuse football.

Paul Finebaum was brutally critical of Kyle McCord choosing Syracuse football.

McCord, who has one year of collegiate eligibility remaining, completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 3,170 yards in the 2023 season at Ohio State, while throwing for 24 touchdowns against just six interceptions.

He was a five-star prospect in high school, and in national transfer rankings this cycle, McCord checks in as four stars, in the top 40 overall, and in the top 15 at quarterback.

A standout at the St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, McCord landed a scholarship offer from the ‘Cuse in May of 2018. McCord is from Mount Laurel, N.J.

Both Mount Laurel and Philadelphia are near Camden, N.J., which is the hometown of new Orange head coach Fran Brown and new Syracuse football defensive coordinator Elijah Robinson.

In a recent article, ESPN’s Pete Thamel noted that McCord’s “deep ties” to the ‘Cuse coaching staff played a major role in his decision.

Thamel added that McCord “grew up in New Jersey and has known both Brown and quarterbacks coach Nunzio Campanile for a decade. He also has deep ties to Jeff Nixon, the expected hire at offensive coordinator who is finishing the season as the New York Giants’ running backs coach.”

McCord was also quoted in Thamel’s piece as saying that he is excited by what Brown and his staff have done on the recruiting trail ever since Brown was formally introduced as the team’s head coach on December 4.

In roughly two weeks, Brown and his assistants have landed numerous highly rated college transfers, picked up new verbal commitments from talented 2024 players, and reaffirmed verbal commitments from 2024 prospects who had pledged to the squad under former head coach Dino Babers.

Naturally, all of these recruiting wins won’t matter much unless Syracuse football plays well on the field in the 2024 season and beyond, but clearly there’s a buzz in the air with the Orange program.

Let’s also not forget that the ‘Cuse, this Thursday night, will play in its second bowl game in as many years, the first time that’s happened in slightly more than a decade.

I’m the first to admit that, at this juncture, Syracuse football isn’t a top-tier program in the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, with the team’s 2024 schedule looking manageable, I don’t think eight to 10 wins is out of the question for the Orange in the next season, and McCord will be instrumental to the team’s success when he’s a senior on the Hill.

Additionally, to me, Finebaum didn’t do his homework. Players want to play where they have strong relationships with the coaching staff, and McCord will have that in Central New York. He’ll also get a chance to play closer to home.

Prior to taking an official visit to the Orange this past weekend, McCord had in recent days visited Nebraska out of the Big Ten. There was chatter he may commit to the Cornhuskers, but that didn’t happen, and he continued to look at other schools, ultimately pledging to Syracuse football.

Finebaum said he thought McCord “would land at a major school, a Nebraska or somewhere else that was in play.”

It’s true that the Cornhuskers suit up in the Big Ten, which I think we all can agree is a better conference than the ACC. However, last time I checked, Nebraska went 5-7 overall in the 2023 campaign.

The Orange, meanwhile, is 6-6, with an opportunity to move to 7-6 if it can knock off American Athletic Conference member South Florida (6-6) on Thursday evening at the 2023 Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla.

I’m clearly a homer, since I went to SU, but I am confident that Brown & Co. are going to build something special on the Hill. So for Finebaum to call McCord’s decision “utterly perplexing” and “weird,” in my humble opinion, given all the context that I’ve laid out, is not only a bit obnoxious, but it’s also ignorant.

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