Saturday, September 8, 2007
HERE'S THE THING: WEEK 2 - THE RESUME GAME
Syracuse travels to Iowa today for what I like to call a "resume game" for Greg Robinson. He knows he can't win, he's waiting to be fired at his current job, and he's just looking for a soft place to fall. You watch him when he greets Coach Ferentz at the end of the game, that's not a playsheet he's surreptitiously handing him, it's a resume. Hang on, first, let me tell you how Greg Robinson got here.
Greg Robinson: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That was the tag on G Rob for 20 years. He was a career assistant, primarily with the Denver Broncos, where he was the defensive coordinator when they won Super Bowls in both '97 & '98. He was a well respected coach but never got a head coaching job. His name was bandied about for countless jobs and he'd interview, but the team would "go in another direction". It was a mystery (to some). Finally, in 2005, he found someone to ch-ch-choose him. Greg Robinson and Syracuse said "I do" and he was finally a head coach.
He was the guy expected to bring their program back to prominence. They were thinking Heismans, bowl games, and conference titles. Things were looking grand! But tragedy struck this happy couple in their very first year of marriage. They were a bad fit, and moreover, Robinson was a shitty head coach. They won 1 game in his first season, coming off consecutive 5 win seasons under the much maligned Paul Pasqualoni. The natives were instantly restless but anxious to see what Robinson could do with "his boys" in the program. In 2006, after a narrow loss to Iowa in 2 OTs, they ripped off 3 wins in a row. It'd been a bumpy road but they were a happy couple again. They were thinking about a bowl game and maybe, just maybe, a conference title. But alas, they lost their next 5 games and things went to hell in a handbasket. In 2 seasons, Robinson had managed to have more losing seasons (yeah, 2) than Pasqualoni did in his 14 years as HC.
After a rough offseason where he shook a lot of hands, kissed a lot of babies, and told a lot of lies, G Rob had people convinced this was the year. There was talk of wreaking havoc in the Big East. They opened at home against the curiously ineffective Ty Willingham and the Washington Huskies. It was time for the Orange to put the squeeze on someone else for a change (I'm sorry). They came out of the gates like a drunken sailor, throwing enthusiastic punches around, flailing wildly, with none of them connecting. The Huskies beat the shit out of them on both sides of the ball. Syracuse managed to average 0.3 YPC on the ground against 2006's last ranked defense in the Pac 10 (also in that conference: Stanford). What's worse, on the defensive side of the ball, Robinson's forte!, they managed to make Jake Locker (no way is that a real name) look like Vince Young. If Beano Cook was alive he'd proclaim him a lock for 4 Heismans. It was one of those career/program defining games, partially because it was the opener on national television, but mostly because it was time for Robinson to deliver on all of his promises at once. He failed, let the whole family down (again), and this marriage is over. The worst part is, everyone knows it, and they're resigned to wait until someone finally puts in the paperwork to end it. Some people just aren't cut out to be a head coach (I'm looking at you, Dan McCarney). They don't have the pomposity, mental acuity, or sheer ego to stare certain failure in the face, and grin, that it takes to be a head coach in Division I football. Some guys are coordinators for life and G Rob is one of them.
The good news is, now the Orange have to travel to Iowa City and face the most ferocious defensive line they'll see all year. I'm predicting pain. Andrew Robinson will be huddled in the fetal position in the corner of the locker room at the half. They'll have to use promises of candy and a pony to get him out for the second half. Throughout the game, he'll pick himself up off the turf after another sack in 3rd & long, he'll go to the sideline looking for help and he'll see that blank look on G Rob's face that will tell him, "you're all alone out there, kid. Good luck." The whole game G Rob will have a faraway look on his face as he's mentally rehearsing what he'll say to Coach Fernentz in their 3 second post game handshake and just how he'll slip his resume to him.
So what's the one thing we need to do this week to win? Not a damn thing. Syracuse is one of the worst teams in college football. They don't pass well, run well, and they don't even tackle. We can go out there, run the same play all day and win. Nothing fancy, nothing cute, nothing creative. Syracuse is the drunk in the bar you don't bother with. You just let them do their thing and they'll fall down on their own. No reason to get your hands dirty with this one, Hawkeyes. Take your 30 points, try for a shutout, and we can all laugh at G Rob's resume after the game.
One more thing, it's a night game and we all know what that means. The tailgates still start at 6am, but instead of filing into Kinnick at 10:30, you drink for an extra 8 hours. I know, it's awesome, and I'm sorry I'm missing this one. However, I still ask that you follow JHC's 3 simple rules for being an Iowa fan:
1) Don't boo.
2) Don't chuck bottles at people (even if it's a dude wearing orange sweatbands).
3) If you drink, don't drive.
Make us proud out there.