Greats return as Syracuse retires No. 44

Published November 13, 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The program's present might not be much to celebrate, but Syracuse brought back some of its all-time greats to retire the school's No. 44 jersey, worn by NFL legend Jim Brown, Heisman winner Ernie Davis and College Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little.

"It's a very respectful day, great for the university," Brown said after a halftime ceremony that had the crowd of 40,144 on its feet. "The fans here are fantastic. ... I was very happy to be back and help start a new era."

Brown, who played at Syracuse from 1954-56, was honored with Little (1964-66) and other No. 44s, including former Orange fullback Rob Konrad (1995-98). Davis' mother, Marie Fleming, attended on behalf of her son, who died of leukemia at age 23 in 1963.

"What a great number. It's a tribute to Syracuse and to college football, and it's an honor to be in this game," USF coach Jim Leavitt said.

USF coaches feared the emotion of the day would motivate Syracuse to an upset victory, but perhaps their youth allowed them to be less in awe.

"They don't know who Jim Brown is hardly," said co-defensive coordinator Wally Burnham, who played at Alabama in 1960-61. "Growing up in that era, I know about Syracuse, about the tradition here. You have to respect this program."

Syracuse is likely headed for its first one-win season since 1948, but Brown said he's confident first-year coach Greg Robinson will turn things around.

"I think we've set the right foundation," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to winning football teams, and I don't think it's going to take long."

BIG BREAK: Leading 10-0 in the first quarter, the Bulls lucked out when an apparent fumble by quarterback Pat Julmiste wasn't ruled as such on replay because an official's whistle had blown the play dead.

Julmiste was ruled down but replays showed the ball was knocked loose before he was down. Julmiste hit his head on the turf on the play and missed the rest of the series, replaced by freshman Carlton Hill, who rushed for 15 yards and didn't attempt a pass.

C'MON NOW: Leavitt is nothing if not complimentary of his opponents, before and after games, but at some point it starts sounding over the top: "I was really concerned (at) 20-0, and we got 27, and I felt like we had a shot with four minutes to go. That's when I really felt like we had a chance to win. I'm really being honest. I'm not being sarcastic. I'm being very honest. That's just how my mind works."

STEPPING IN: Starting left tackle Thed Watson, a Lakewood grad, left twice with injuries, first to his right shoulder and then what appeared to be his right ankle.

Sophomore Jerome Springfield replaced him for two series after the first injury, seeing his first action on the first team. Redshirt freshman Marc Dile, who started the first two games of the season, returned to the starting lineup at right tackle.

THIS AND THAT: Redshirt freshman Marcus Edwards had his first catch in the opening quarter, a 47-yard gain that set up USF's first touchdown. ... USF's only turnover came on an interception by safety Anthony Smith, who leads the Big East with six picks. ... For the record, USF has had only two players wear No. 44 in its short history: linebacker Vassay Marc (1997-2000) and tight end Mark Feldman of Clearwater Central Catholic (2002-04).