Discussing the Future of the Syracuse-Army Series With Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician

With the Syracuse-Army series in jeopardy, Troy Nunes is An Absolute Magician answered some questions for me

Syracuse beat Army 29-16 last season.
Source: Dennis Nett (Syracuse.com)

With Army joining the American Athletic Conference this year, they have had to cancel several marquee non-conference series. One such series is the one they have with Syracuse. After a nearly three-decade hiatus, the two schools met at the Carrier Dome last year. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician answered some questions I had regarding his thoughts in the interview below.

1.) Were you thrilled to see Army and Syracuse originally schedule their 4-game agreement?

Yes. It made a lot of sense for Syracuse to play Army. There is tradition involved so it appeals to fans more than playing a random MAC or Sun Belt game. Army's location also makes it accessible to a lot of Syracuse fans in the Northeast. For all the non-conference regional opponents that Syracuse could schedule, I think Army is the one that makes the most sense in terms of fan appeal and winning.

2.) How important was the 2023 game for the Syracuse program?

Despite the firing of Dino Babers, the fact that Syracuse made a bowl game was critical to the program. The win over Army obviously was important since the Orange had to scratch and claw to get to 6 wins. It wasn't a pretty game against a tough Army team, but it showed that the 2023 Syracuse team did have some fight among the roster. The bowl game itself was awful but Fran Brown got to see some of that roster he was inheriting and in the long run that should help the program and those players.

3.) What are your thoughts on the recent cancellations of games in the series?

It's disappointing because it was a series that made so much sense. It also impacts the future schedules for the Orange. Syracuse is not set up well for future years (https://fbschedules.com/ncaa/syracuse/) and they are going to be scrambling to fit in games, which means you end up with situations like this year where they have a bye in week 3 and then go on the road to UNLV followed by a trip to NC State the following week. Fans sometimes don't realize that when you play is almost as important as who you play.

4.) Army’s AD Mike Buddie has expressed interest in keeping one Power Five school on the non-conference schedule.

Could you see Army and Syracuse playing a neutral site game in the NYC metro given both schools’ significant Big Apple presence? 

Definitely can see these schools playing a game in Yankee Stadium, but it would need to be a November game and would take some planning on both sides. Can they make it work with conference schedules? It's possible and I expect that we'll see that happen in an upcoming season.

5.) The Army game turned into a trip to UNLV to play at Allegiant Stadium.

Are you happier to be playing a non-conference game in an NFL stadium or would you rather be playing against Army?

For a new Head Coach who is trying to make a big turnaround, I think playing UNLV in primetime on National TV provides an opportunity for some better exposure than playing Army. Las Vegas is an appealing away trip for Orange fans and I think having access to plenty of tickets should make the UNLV game a great opportunity to get eyes on Fran Brown's team.

6.) The loss of the Army series is the latest in a trend of the diminishing of Northeast rivalries.

Syracuse has only played Buffalo twice since 2000 and zero times since 2007. How concerned are you about this trend?

If you ask Syracuse fans, the two schools they'd most like to see Syracuse play are Penn State and West Virginia. Following that would be Rutgers, and with Fran Brown's focus on recruiting in New Jersey, we could see this rivalry renewed moving forward. Unfortunately playing Buffalo isn't a priority for Syracuse, but with the Bills getting a lot of state money to build their new stadium, a game there could be a bigger draw. Syracuse and UConn are scheduled to play the next four seasons and with the history between the two schools on the gridiron and hardwood, we could see this continuing as an annual game for a while.

7.) Is there anything final you would like to add to this discussion?

The challenge for a school like Syracuse is how to schedule their non-conference games to improve home attendance while also giving the program the best chance to win games. It's a delicate balance because many Orange fans remember the 80s and 90s when schools like Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska and Oklahoma came to the Carrier Dome. The hope is that the new coaching staff can put Syracuse back in a position to make these series more realistic instead of money grabs.

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