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Scott Shafer, Floyd Little discuss restoration of No. 44 to football program

first_imgFor about 30 minutes, Syracuse Athletics waited to unveil the big news of the day.Concealed under a white tent, with 60 chairs and many more people standing, SU interim director of athletics Pete Sala announced the football program’s biggest decision since the hiring of head coach Scott Shafer:“With the blessing of Jim Brown and Floyd Little, the No. 44 is back,” Sala said.The iconic number had been retired on Nov. 12, 2005 before SU played South Florida. Three of SU’s best football players — Brown, Ernie Davis, the first African-American Heisman Trophy winner and Little, SU’s only three-time All-American — wore the number. The last player to don a jersey with No. 44 was fullback Rob Konrad in 1998.After a disastrous season, in which the Orange posted a 3-9 record and had its first losing season after two straight winning seasons, the announcement brings back one of the program’s few traditions. The restoration of No. 44 was cloaked by the Plaza 44 Groundbreaking Ceremony, which will have statues of Brown, Davis and Little.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“If that’s the way we can attract the kind of player that can put our program back on track,” Little said, “why shouldn’t we?Shafer, who even wore a blue tie with orange helmets that had 44 on each, said he realized that the number still held clout while he was recruiting after the football season ended. For the majority of the ceremony, Little, Sala and Shafer lauded the number’s cultural importance rather it standing as just a number or being associated with a person.“It’s about the culture of Syracuse football,” Shafer said after the ceremony. “It’s less about each and every individual and more about what each and every individual represents or represented when they played here.”After the announcement, Sala and Shafer wanted to focus on the statues rather than the future of the number. Shafer responded to a question about whether a true freshman could potentially wear the number by asking, “Any other questions?”“I don’t want to talk about that today,” Sala said after the ceremony when asked about the process of choosing a player to where the number. “Today’s about the Plaza.”Sala said restoring the number was the right thing to do, but would not say retiring the number was the wrong decision. The university will put together a process as to how a player can wear No. 44, he said.He and Little did give some qualifications for how someone would get to wear the number. Shafer said that the player that wears the number would have to be of high character, a quality player and someone that also focuses on their academics.Little said that any way the program could improve, it should, and he did not want to stand in the way. Before the decision to restore the number, Little had a conversation with former SU running back Brown.“We don’t have that many traditions, this is one of the better ones, so I’m OK with it,” Little said. “I talked with Jim Brown. He said, ‘Floyd, you’re there. I’ll roll with you, whatever you call.’” Comments Published on May 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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