Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week, he will break down the worst matchup in college football. Considering the increasing number of uncompetitive and uninteresting games, Mike's task is more difficult than getting Carrie Prejean to stay on the set of "Larry King Live."
Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone?
Until 2004, Syracuse's football team was known as the Orangemen. And the SU women’s teams were the Orangewomen. Then they all became the Orange.
It was a landmark decision.
Anyway, Syracuse football slipped on an orange peel after the 2004 season. Coach Paul Pasqualoni had one losing season in 14 years at the school, but new SU athletics director Daryl Gross must not have been taken with his coach. Especially after the Orange lost the Champs Sports Bowl in 2004 to Georgia Tech by the unseemly score of 51-14.
So after the Orange’s second-straight 6-6 season (including a 4-2 Big East mark that was good for a championship share) Gross fired Pasqualoni. The guy had coached many a Syracuse team into the national rankings, but the athletic director obviously wanted his football program to go to the next level. So it did. That next level was underground.
Five years later, Syracuse hasn't had a sniff of any kind of bowl. It has won 13 games, lost 43, and is on its second coach since Pasqualoni's dismissal. That gentleman, by the way, is the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins and presumably is living well in south Florida.
Louisville had a very good thing going in football itself not long ago. Under Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals went 32-5 between 2004 and 2006. Petrino split for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons after the '06 season, and Louisville turned to Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe. It hasn't yet worked out.
The Cardinals are 14-19 under Kragthorpe, quite a dropoff after 12-1 in '06. They are destined for their third straight season without a bowl trip.
Syracuse plays at Louisville in this week's Game of the Weak. The loser gets the Big East basement to itself. The winner gets a week of solace.
The two squads are 3-6 overall, 0-4 in the conference widely considered the weakest of the BCS' six affiliated leagues. The 'Cuse has been outscored, 133-50, in Big East games. The Cards have been outscored, 131-54, in Big East games. Orange and cardinal are colorful in name only.
This game is being played at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Louisville sold the naming rights to the stadium to a pizza-delivery chain for $5 million. That gives this game the class and distinction it so richly deserves.