By: Cole Mantell (@lightningdragon)
During this freshman AD series, we’ve written and noted that many members of the league are from the southeastern US. The AD room they are joining also holds this trend. Many guys in the AD Board Room are based south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Of course, there are always exceptions. One of them is the new Syracuse AD Andrew Brandt (@SilentNinja).
Syracuse not only is a new team coming into Season 19 of the CFSL, but it follows a trend of somewhat smaller fanbase schools who have joined the CFSL in recent years. Illinois, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh all are recent examples of smaller marker northern schools that have joined. Illinois and West Virginia in particular are both playoff teams this season with some great momentum. Brandt and Syracuse are hoping to follow the paths set recently by those and other similar schools.
Brandt is seemingly up for the challenge. “I don’t believe [being located in upstate New York] hinders us. What makes this a challenge isn’t our location. It’s filling a team and getting [the players] excited about a college team I’m passionate about.”
But there aren’t just challenges, but advantages as well. Or at least Brandt believes so. He feels Syracuse’s unique location, brand, and even uniform set can all help the Orange be successful as an expansion team in the CFSL. In my conversation with him, the words persistence and passion came up more than a few times. That’s what Brandt believes will set both him and his program apart from the other newcomers in Season 19.
Originally from Harrison, NY, Brandt is no stranger to northern sports. He is a fan of the Yankees, Jets, and Devils.
Brandt began his CFSL journey as an assistant at Notre Dame before moving to Northern Illinois in the MAC. One MAC championship later, SilentNinja leaves the MAC looking to emulate that success as Syracuse enters the CFSL in the newly reformed ACC.
The ACC is going to be a tough conference. Syracuse will be the only expansion team in the conference. Another hurdle for Syracuse is the rivalry week game set for Week Eight next season. Syracuse’s rivalry week matchup will be an out-of-conference matchup against fellow expansion franchise Penn State. Penn State is led by Smitty, a former AD and offensive guru. It should be a must-watch game this season and one that should be a tough matchup.
It isn’t all negative, however. While the ACC will feature mostly returning ADs, it allows Syracuse to offer recruits a chance to compete against those schools each year at a new and different campus experience. In addition, while the northeast is traditionally a region with fewer high-rated recruits, less does not mean zero. Syracuse will have a great geographic position to compete for some great players, and not many other schools are nearby to challenge them. Expect the new rivals in Penn State to compete greatly here a lot.
“Central New York is more than just mountains and farmland. It’s the home of the Syracuse Orangemen. This is our house”. The roots run deep for Brandt, and that will be key in the journey of this team. Non-traditional teams have a deep history in the CFSL, starting with Boise State and going through many other teams we’ve mentioned already.
For Syracuse to follow the path of those schools, it will take more than flashing the logo of the school. Brandt will need to convince guys to make a journey north often, not just play close to home. However, if his record both in the MAC and before is any indication, the talent and drive are there to be successful. And another school joins the orange uniform club. Let’s just hope when the schools play, cooler heads will prevail in the respective equipment managers’ offices.