Allen Park — The Clemson Tigers should have checked the report.
Prior to heading to New Orleans, for his team’s Sunday showdown with the Saints, Lions coach Jim Caldwell was asked the most challenging road environment as an opposing coach.
Expecting any number of NFL answers, from Kansas City to Seattle to Minnesota, Caldwell surprised the local media by picking a regular stop from his college coaching days.
“Now, if you want to rephrase that and ask me what I think the toughest stadium is to play in that I’ve ever been around, it’s Syracuse,” Caldwell said. “It’s the hardest one to hear. It’s noisy. As a matter of fact, back in my old days when I was in college, I was up in the box, and the windows were open at that particular location, and you literally could not hear the guy sitting next to you talk. It’s so loud.”
Who knew how prophetic the answer would turn out to be?
While Syracuse isn’t exactly a national power these days, it can still be a difficult place to play. Clemson, ranked No. 2 in the country, with road wins over two ranked opponents under their belt, rolled into town Friday night as a 23-point favorite, only to get upended by the Orange, 27-24.
Caldwell made three trips to Syracuse as a college coach. Coaching receivers at Louisville in 1985, the Cardinals were smashed 48-0 at the Carrier Dome. The Penn State Nittany Lions, with Caldwell as quarterbacks coach, met a similar fate in 1987, falling 48-21. Penn State got some revenge two years later with a 34-12 victory.