Libonati: MetLife series meets its necessary end

first_img Published on October 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After Syracuse and Notre Dame left MetLife Stadium on Saturday, the grounds crew took over the stadium. Workers took down banners for the SU-UND game and put up New York Jets banners on the walls around the field. They peeled back the turf with “Syracuse” and “Orange” on it in the end zones, replacing it with “Jets” in both. A MetLife light turned from orange to blue to off.It took only three hours to wipe away most of the physical residue from Syracuse’s series in East Rutherford.On Saturday, the MetLife series met its death. Syracuse (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) dropped its game against Notre Dame (2-3), 50-33, marking its fourth loss in the series by a combined 52 points — 13 points per game. Even as the game reached its start, few fans filled the stadium. The drizzling of fans who entered in the 11 minutes between the national anthem and kickoff were decidedly dressed in more green than orange. SU’s fourth loss in the series heaps another blow to the unsuccessful series.The series, started under former Director of Athletics Daryl Gross, has been long bemoaned by fans and those who follow Syracuse football. At a time when Syracuse needed its program to recover, the series has helped rebury the program. Director of Athletics John Wildhack and head coach Dino Babers have a chance to right the program minus a money grab (Syracuse made as much as $5 million per game and $3 million against Penn State, per Syracuse.com) holding SU back.“I get it that we get a lot of money and we’ll pay a lot of the bills and that’s really good. So that’s great,” Babers said. “I would hope that in the future that we’d get to play them in the Carrier Dome.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“In the future, I’d hope to get teams like that in the Carrier Dome.”Jessica Sheldon | Photo EditorBabers said he wouldn’t hold his breath for a pro-SU crowd. It’s a good thing he didn’t. The announced attendance was 62,794, which is being generous (and maybe offensive to those who saw the crowd). At least 70 percent of the crowd was pro-Notre Dame. In 2012, the MetLife game drew 39,507 people, 61,202 attended in 2013 and 76,802 attended in 2014.The game was branded as the “Battle in the Apple” and “New York’s College Classic.” But “Over-hyped New Jersey Classic” would have fit just as well.Beyond the aesthetics of the game, the football aspect has been detrimental. The program played games against Southern California, Penn State and twice against Notre Dame. Each unsurprisingly have national brands, which is the only excuse to say the stadium was three-quarters full. SU, as a program, was only truly prepared to play USC at the time schedules were set. The Orange faced a weaker PSU team because of NCAA sanctions the season before the matchup. Maybe the series has given back what’s deserved. SU has served up games befitting of a contest that’s been misbranded.After four years of Doug Marrone’s tenure, when the football program appeared to be turning around, the game may have been appropriate. SU was good enough to play USC, then the No. 2 team in the country. With Marrone leaving, the games outpaced how good Syracuse could be under Scott Shafer.Kiran Ramsey | Digital Design EditorInstead of playing a game against a big-name team, it would have been valuable for SU to play a team it could manage. Next year, it’ll play Middle Tennessee State, the type of team the Orange should have been playing all along. SU will also play Louisiana State, another game against a big team for the Orange, the type of game SU doesn’t need. By no means is any game automatic, but getting a team on its slate that could get SU to a bowl game could have been more useful.Another win may have pushed SU to seven regular season wins in 2013 and could’ve earned SU a better bowl game than the Texas Bowl. Another win in 2014 could’ve helped SU blunt its loss to Maryland and get on track. With a team this season that’s on the fringe of a bowl game, another win could be key to SU making the postseason.Coulda, shoulda, woulda is gone now. SU played out its first contract with MetLife. And despite MetLife and SU saying it’d sign a contract to play 10 games over 20 seasons from 2019 to 2038, the two sides never did. As the workers cleared up those physical remnants, they scrubbed away only some of the series’ effects.The rest is left to Babers and Wildhack.Chris Libonati is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or @ChrisLibonati. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more