Committing to Major |
The experience of the late 1960s, particularly the 1970 football boycott [nine African American players staged a boycott over racial grievances with the athletic department], led Eggers to believe that Syracuse University could not support a major college athletic program. As he later remembered, "I had some misgivings about whether the University should return to a major emphasis on sports. I didn't see how we were going to be able to do it. Additionally, I knew we had a crumbling stadium and we had no standing as a basketball team because we hadn't yet crossed the line, really. So we didn't have a base to go on." Eggers admitted that he considered canceling the sports program, as had the University of Chicago, and that he got some advice in this regard from some of his colleagues at the Maxwell School. However, he was equally clear that the advice of another Maxwell scion, Michael Sawyer, who argued passionately for the survival of athletics, was the "advice on this matter that I substantially acted on." Thus, by 1971, Eggers remembered that "I came to the conclusion that we were more likely to accomplish the total program of the University if we included a stronger athletic program than if we tried to go without it at all."
The Dome on the Hill
Archbold Stadium was built in 1909, and for many alumni it meant Syracuse University. Crisp fall days, football games against Colgate; BrownDavisMackeyBen. But by 1969, Old Arch was crumbling to pieces. As important as its disrepair was the fact that Archbold did not have the 35,000 permanent seats required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for its Division I football schools (Archbold seated only 26,000)....
The final pricetag of the fifth largest domed stadium in the Northeast and the only enclosed football stadium on a university campus was $26.85 million. The structure had consumed 30,000 cubic yards of concrete and 880 tons of steel, even though it occupies 10,000 fewer square feet of space than did Archbold. Its most distinctive feature, the inflated fiberglass roof, covers 6.5 acres and weighs 220 tons.... Although sunlight passes through the translucent panels, more than 500 lights, manufactured by the Crouse-Hinds Company, shine for night events.... Seating consists of 49,598 aluminum bleacher seats and 684 theater seats (18 in each of the 38 private boxes). When being used for basketball, a 50-yard section is cut from the football field with a 60-foot-high curtain designed by Cooper Decoration of Syracuse-a configuration that has become known as the "Demi-Dome."
The experience of the late 1960s, particularly the 1970 football boycott [nine African American players staged a boycott over racial |
grievances with the athletic department], led Eggers to believe that Syracuse University could not support a major college athletic program. As he later remembered, "I had some
misgivings about whether the University should return to a major emphasis on sports."
Tied Up at the Sugar Bowl|
In 1986, the Syracuse University football team, guided by Heisman Trophy candidate Don McPherson, posted a perfect 11-0 record in the regular season, earning a trip to the Sugar Bowl in the New Orleans Superdome on New Year's Day, 1987.]
It had been 23 years between major bowl games for the Orange, and 28 years since the national championship team. They went into the game 11-0, ranked fourth in the nation; their opponent, Southeastern Conference champion Auburn, was ranked sixth with a record of 9-1-1. Neither team had a realistic shot at the national championship, but for Syracuse, the opportunity had finally presented itself to equal the feat of the 1959 team.
It was not to be. With the score at 16-13 and 4 seconds remaining on the clock, Auburn coach Pat Dye ordered a 30-yard field goal. The game ended in a tie. Dye later told reporters that "my decision was not to get beat. This team played too good and had too good a season to get beat." On national television, an incensed [SU coach Dick] MacPherson was plain: "We never go for a tie." A Syracuse radio station collected and sent some 2,000 ties to Pat Dye (Dye autographed the ties to contribute to a sale that benefited Auburn's general scholarship fund). Workers at a Montgomery, Alabama, radio station sent back a shipment of sour grapes. MacPherson was more than a little bitter: "When Pat Dye is 11-0, ask him [why he did it]. Maybe that's why he doesn't get to 11-0."
The Smart Shot
The 1986-87 season was the best in the history of Orange basketball. Their 31-7 record was a thing of beauty, not just for the season's final outcome, which included one of the most thrilling games in the history of college basketball, but because following the leaving of [Dwayne "Pearl"] Washington, no onenot even the most die-hard Orange fanever expected them to do so well....
In the opening game [of the Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans], Syracuse went up against Big East rival Providence, coached by former [Jim] Boeheim assistant Rick Pitino, who, like Boeheim, was coaching in his first Final Four. The Orange beat Providence for the third time in the season, 77-63. That evening, students went wild on Marshall Street, as an estimated crowd of 8,000 shattered windows, ransacked two stores, tore up road signs, and stopped passing motorists by jumping on their cars. Down south, SU readied itself for Bobby Knight's Indiana University Hoosiers, who had defeated the University of Nevada-Las Vegas 97-93 in the other semifinal matchup. The final game was a stomach-churning roller coaster ride. The game stayed dead even for the entire time. With 28 seconds remaining, Syracuse led 73-72. Then with only 4 seconds left, Indiana's Keith Smart sank a jump shot from the left side, making the score 74-73. It took the deflated Orangemen 3 seconds to call a time out; Smart then intercepted [Derrick] Coleman's hail-mary inbounds pass as the game clock expired. Boeheim told alumni later that summer: "You won't see many better games."