Thursday, November 4, 2010

Here's a change: Syracuse football team must guard against overconfidence

I’ll be heading to the Carrier Dome Saturday to see if Syracuse can end its six-year bowl drought with a victory against Louisville. The situation is clear cut: Win and you’re in.

A victory obviously would be another huge step for coach Doug Marrone, who is resuscitating this moribund program much more quickly than anyone expected. The biggest opponent for the Orange men in this game might just be themselves. At 6-2 and with four games remaining, they need just one victory. They will have to guard against overconfidence because, quite frankly, despite the great strides they’ve taken, they’re still a team that isn’t talented enough to just show up and win. The final four games are all winnable and all losable.


Syracuse’s surprising start – which includes impressive road wins at South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati – apparently is having a positive impact on recruiting. Marrone is in the running for defensive end Ishaq Williams, the top high school prospect in New York State. Now, before you snicker about the poor caliber of play in the Empire State, consider this: The prospect from New York City is rated as the seventh best defensive end in the country by and the major schools recruiting him are Alabama, USC, Penn State and Notre Dame.

SU has an in with Williams because both of his parents are Syracuse alums. But if the Orange men were still wallowing in mediocrity, they wouldn’t even be in the conversation.

This would be, by far, the biggest recruit Marrone will have landed. Williams is scheduled to make his visit to the SU campus on Dec. 11 and make a decision in early January. Stay tuned.


I’m all for the Bills taking a chance on released San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman. It’s a low-risk, high-reward deal and even if he is only 75 percent the player he was a few years ago before he suffered a spate of injuries, he’ll still be an improvement over the linebackers and pass-rushers the Bills currently have.


Kudos to the New York Mets for reducing their ticket prices by 14 percent for the 2011 season. As noted in a column a few weeks back, I called for the Buffalo Bills to reduce their prices as a show of good faith for their fans incredible patience. I hope the Mets become trend-setters in this area. Of course, this might require the players to take pay cuts and that’s about as likely to happen as elephants flying.


Today’s stupidity in sports award goes to Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics. One of the NBA’s most infamous trash talkers, Garnett reportedly called Detroit’s Charlie Villanueva “a cancer patient” during Tuesday night’s game.

Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a medical condition that results in hair loss. He does not have any hair on his head.

Garnett denied the allegations before last night’s game, saying in a statement: “I am aware there was a major miscommunication regarding something I said on the court last night. My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact: You are cancerous to your team and our league. I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything distasteful. The game of life is bigger than the game of basketball.”

The spin doctors who wrote that statement for him should realize that even saying someone is “cancerous to your team and out league” is quite insensitive and distasteful. But it’s a distasteful comment, sadly, that many in sports make without thinking twice about it.


Finally, if you’d like to meet two World Series champions and two of the classiest people in Rochester sports history, head to The Webster Columbus Center (a k a The Knights of Columbus) at 70 Barrett Dr. in Webster Sunday for the monthly CollectorFest hosted by Ernest Orlando. Former champs Johnny Antonelli (pitcher, 1954 New York Giants) and Joe Altobelli (manager, 1983 Baltimore Orioles) will be signing from 1-2:30.

The show, featuring several local sports memorabilia dealers, runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free, while autographs are $5 apiece, with all proceeds going to The Wilmot Cancer Center.

Orlando, a Rochester elementary school teacher, has been running these monthly shows for the past decade. He does a great job.

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