With summer camp in full swing on the South Campus, the Idiots thought we'd look back 10 brief years ago given the current befuddled state of the program. We take you back to the fall of 1997: the world was mourning the loss of Princess Diana and the first Harry Potter book had just been published. Matchbox 20 and the Wallflowers broke through while the world of rap mourned a lost legend.
On the hill, Coach Pasqualoni was entering his seventh season as Syracuse head coach. The Orangemen, (not Orange), were coming off a 9-3 season in 1996 that was capped off with a 30-17 win over Houston in the Liberty Bowl. This Idiot remembers that game as the Malcolm Thomas Show. Fans had high expectations for the coming season, some even dared to dream of a national championship. Today we are dreaming of .500; my how the times have changed.
Junior Donovan McNabb earned MVP honors of the season's first game, in a 34-0 whitewashing of Wisconsin in the Kickoff Classic. The game featured Kevin Johnson's 89 yard opening kickoff return. The following week the Orangemen returned for their home opener, dropping a 32-31 heartbreaker to NC State in the program's first venture into overtime. Tuck the ball away Dee Brown! The Men of Orange followed this performance up by melting in the Oklahmoa sun, falling to the Sooners 36-34.
Big East play would begin with a trip to Virginia Tech. And...well...we all know how much fun that is. Cuse fell to 1-3 with a typical Syracuse performance in Blacksburg, losing 31-3. Local talk radio and letters-to-the editors reflected the frustration and disbelief of Central New York fans.
The Orangemen would reel off seven wins in a row. Tebucky Jones saved the day with a late interception in a 30-19 win over Tulane in Dome. The Cuse followed up with a 56-0 blowout win over East Carolina. A trip to Rutgirls yielded a 50-3 victory. Temple put up a typical fight in the Dome, losing 60-7.
The regular season concluded with Big East wins over West Virginia (40-10), Bettor's College (20-13), Pittsburgh (32-27) and a long-awaited victory over Miami (33-13). Syracuse had managed a 6-1 Conference and in turn won the Big East Championship, the school's first outright title.
The final offensive numbers were impressive. Syracuse led the league in scoring offense (35.3 ppg) and total offense (427.25 ypg). Donovan McNabb's 2,892 yards of total offense led the Big East, outpacing Matt Hasselback, Marc Bulger, and Edgerin James. Not a bad list to be on top off.
On New Year's Eve the season concluded with a date with Bill Snyder's Halfway House in the Fiesta Bowl. Michael Bishop led Kansas State to 35-18 win as the Orangemen finished the year at 9-4.
1997, an enigma of a year. It started out with such high expectations (the thrashing of Wisconsin on national TV) but quickly turned into a nightmare (1-3 start). Coach P reminded us that "the real season starts wtih the conference schedule" and the team followed suit cruising to the league title.
BCS Bowls, thrashing Rutgirls, winning league titles........all just 10 years ago.