Watching Syracuse Skate to Win, I Dream of a Crunchy Orange Weekend for All
Those block-letter SYR jerseys the Syracuse Crunch wear every now and then sure look nice.
They're quite different than anything with Crunch guy or a Tampa Bay-parent-derived lightning bolt on it, I thought.
In fact, as I sat in the Onondaga County War Memorial appreciating the hometown squad skate to a 4-1 AHL victory over the Hershey Bears Friday night, the white lettering on orange reminded me of the uniforms of the teams worn a few miles over on the Syracuse University hill.
Which sent me on a community-oriented brainstorm. A sports fan's dream, if you will.
If you were among the 30,715 that attended last season's wildly successful Frozen Dome Classic up there, you already know that the Crunch can skate on the Orange's turf, so to speak. (OK, I know that the Utica Comets won in the Carrier Dome 2-1, but that's splitting ice cubes.)
I was impressed with the extra seven feet added to the length of the War Memorial ice between the red lines from last season to this to bring it to regulation size, Howard Dolgon, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't schedule another contest in the Dome now that you know it can be done.
Now interest new Orange AD Mark Coyne in truly joining in to make it something really special for the community.
How does Crunchy Orange Weekend '16 sound, fellas?
Put the ice down for a Thursday night contest in early November. If you're feeling extremely confident, Crunch owner, you can have them place the rink running the other direction, in the center of the dome, and use all of the seating instead of taking the safer route and closer sight lines that worked last year. The Syracuse University folks have been lightly tossing this idea around for a big basketball game -- Duke and Coach K before Jim Boeheim retires, anyone? -- for a few years. The rink is bigger than the court; the puck is smaller than the basketball. Tough call. Interesting, Mr. Dolgon. Very interesting.
That should leave enough time to get the football field ready for a Saturday ACC game. Goodness knows, the Orange football team could use the benefit of a promotional blast.
After that 3-0 start, well, to say the bottom has fallen out for Coach Scott Shafer's squad is true and appropriate regarding consecutive losses to LSU, South Florida, Virginia, Pittsburgh and Florida State. With Louisville on the road this week, undefeated and national championship playoff-hopeful Clemson coming to the dome the Saturday after that, and North Carolina away and old rival Boston College to finish the season here the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Fire-Him posse has Shafer in its sights. Some of his decisions late in first half against the Seminoles, when the Orange could have gotten back in the game, have raised the volume. Defenders of the hard-working third-year coach include parents of his players.
On one hand, there's a first-year AD who may want to bring in his own football coach. On the other hand, SU is an institution known for its loyalty. First-year coach or fourth-year coach, the football component of Crunchy Orange Weekend could be interesting. And do you think Nike would like the chance to crank out and sell another version of the 2016 jersey, one with block lettering?
On Sunday, down would go the basketball floor for an early season game. It wouldn't really matter what squad is on the other bench, but a team that also wore orange might be nice. Texas-El Paso wears orange and blue. Bowling Green wears orange and brown. I know. AD Coyne's former university, Boise State, wears blue and orange.
If we're going whole-community here, let's fit the Syracuse Chiefs in. GM Jason Smorol should be up for it. Each game in the Dome could feature a popular member of the 2016 Chiefs squad greeting fans and a team rep selling raffle tickets for a designated charity of their choice. The winner gets a coupon book for the 2017 Chiefs season. And on opening day, the Chiefs wear their SYR block-letter jerseys.
For one weekend, we'd all be in this together.