Hi Zack, with a big day coming on Saturday, I just wanted to reach out and talk to you a little bit about what’s ahead of you when LSU comes to town. A lot of folks the fans of Syracuse University’s football team are nervous about the Tigers, and frankly, they’ve got good reason. After all, this is one of the strongest teams in the nation, with a legitimate shot at winning a national championship this year thanks largely to Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette.

But you know what, Zack? Put all that behind you, because the only thing that matters right now is that you’re the new starting quarterback for the Syracuse Orange. It probably wasn’t something you expected to have happen as a preferred walk-on, or at least not this early in your career. You opened the year as the fifth string QB and, thanks to a hand injury for AJ Long bumping you up to fourth string, a torn achilles for Terrel Hunt, and now a concussion for Eric Dungey, you find yourself in the unexpected position of being one of the two guys who will absolutely see the field under center against an SEC squad that’s been rolling over the competition all year.

There are some people who think the game is a foregone conclusion. After all, how could a Syracuse squad that gave up more than 500 yards of offense to Central Michigan and struggled to move the ball in the second half against the Chippewas be expected to hang with LSU, particularly with a walk-on QB getting his first career start, on an enormous, national stage?

Well let me tell you about another guy who faced tall odds. A guy no one believed in. A guy, coincidentally, also named Mahoney. Officer Carey Mahoney, to be exact. No doubt you’ve heard of him?

When Carey Mahoney got to the police academy, he was just a screw up slacker who liked chasing women and playing practical jokes, to go along with the occasional petty crime. But you know what he also liked doing? Inspiring his peers with natural charisma, leadership, and a can-d0 attitude. He also had a partner who could make awesome sound effects with his mouth, so if you have one of those it might help as well (Trey Dunkelberger? Jonathan Thomas? We’ll work on this in practice all week, I’m sure).

And when the shit hit the fan, and there were riots in the streets, Carey Mahoney was thrust into a position not many thought he was equipped to handle. He was just a cadet, not even a real officer yet. No one expected him to be able to handle himself against such tremendous odds. Sound familiar? You bet your ass, it does.

The point is, that Mahoney, who didn’t expect to get called up to the big time so early in his career, got his shit together and came up with a clever, crafty gameplan that allowed the police academy cadets to put a stop to that city-wide riot and become heroes. He even got rewarded with a medal (along with a little extracurricular, under the podium activity, but we’re not making any promises here so settle down, tiger), alongside his other most noteworthy partner, Moses Hightower. Since Hightower sometimes like to go by the name “Bubba Smith” and was a great college football and NFL lineman, let’s go ahead and assign that role to Ron Thompson. Sound good? Good.

The point I’m trying to make here, Zack, is that even though the odds seem to be stacked against you and the Orange, history suggests it’s possible for a young, inexperienced guy named Mahoney to pull through in the end. And then for a number of increasingly stupid sequels until finally he bails on the franchise and decides he’d rather fade into Hollywood obscurity than have his name attached to such lousy movies.

And you know what? You need to remember a couple other things, too. You were 4-for-4 for 19 yards and added a couple solid runs, and orchestrated the game winning touchdown in overtime against CMU. Last season in junior college, you threw for 1,943 yards with 18 touchdowns. You’re a 6-foot-3, 210 pound officer of the law (of football, I guess?) and you’ll be damned if you let those stinkin’ Tigers stand in the way of your moment of glory.

I know for sure this guy will be watching, nodding in approval with every completion. I believe in you, Syracuse believes in you, and there’s no doubt in my mind, Carey Mahoney sure as hell believes in you.


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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including,,,, and, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He's got a wife, and a toddler he's brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff's a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish