Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Alma Mater Hit and Run

I lived in the Northeast from when I was born until 2002. During that time I graduated from Syracuse University in 1991, and returned several times to cover college football and basketball games.

But since moving all over the country, I hadn't been back in 5 years and my 42 hours in town felt very familiar.

First, our group stayed at the Genesee Grande Hotel, which was the first hotel my Dad took me to when I first visited the campus in 1986. It was the Genesee Inn at the time, and a little more spartan than the boardroom suite I commanded on this trip.

We were there long enough to hit an excellent dinner at Phoebe's. And before heading to the Dome, I got my dome shorn up at a barber shop that was open at 7 AM on a Saturday.

I walked through campus to work, picked up some Orange gear for the kids, and remembered the 44-degree weather wouldn't be so cold without the 20 MPH winds, an observation I made many times in my 4-year (no summer classes, no 5th year) tenure.

Syracuse football is back on the map this year, with 7 wins and their first guaranteed winning season since 2001. And I was there to cover it - and in the press notes to prove it.

I'm sure my parents, who paid 6 figures in tuition, would've felt some sense of payoff for their investment. But as for the emotional investment in the football team, it was an uninspiring 23-6 loss to surging Connecticut.

There's always next year. Besides I never made it to Cosmo's - my first trip back to M Street without a signature tuna bomber.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Turmoil in Washington

I picked an apropos headline since were are upon a historic midterm Election Day. But the people who actually live in DC are probably much more concerned with the quarterback situation.

Mike Shanahan had the guts this past weekend to pull potential Hall-of-Fame QB Donovan McNabb, saying he was poorly conditioned and lacked the "cardiovascular endurance" to run the 2-minute drill in a comeback situation in Detroit.

Personally, I have loved McNabb since he set foot on the Syracuse campus. He is the most prolific quarterback in Syracuse history, and Philadelphia Eagles history as well. But Shanahan is right, highlighting McNabb's lack of fitness.

It was something that Andy Reid didn't address until trading the face of the franchise within the division. So maybe he said it without saying it.

And I don't believe that McNabb is poorly conditioned, per se. But I think he has a condition. I remember him burning clock in a big comeback spot against Miami so he could catch his breath in the huddle. Syracuse came up short in that game 38-31 and the game ended on the 1-yard line.

I remember another game where he suffered in the same situation, and actually threw up on the field minutes before throwing the winning TD pass against Virginia Tech.

And what Eagle fan can forget the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, when the Eagles could not rally fast enough down the stretch because McNabb couldn't keep up?

McNabb's accomplishments in the NFL speak for themselves, but now Shanahan knows his limitations as well. And unlike Andy Reid, he won't have an invested fan base to piss off if he yanks McNabb in a similar circumstance.

And Washington will have to prepare for a change in its leadership structure.