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New York’s First Settlers

Gross’ courtship of New York City doesn’t seem as misguided as it once did.

Posted: D.A.

A few years ago, when Darryl Gross took over as A.D. at Syracuse he began is courtship of New York City.

We all figured he was love struck by the bright lights of Gotham, thus slightly embarrassed of the quaintness of Upstate New York.

While SU has forever been a pipeline of college kids from Long Island, New Jersey and the Tri-State area, there is a certain pride in the fact Syracuse is not big city.

The Carrier Dome does not fill up with 30,000 commuters from the Upper East Side, either. Gross’ active and open wooing of New York City simply felt like the fallacy of an insecure young A.D. from the land of freeways and Hollywood glitter.

Yet, five years later Gross may have been way ahead of the curve. The constant chatter of Big 10 expansion continues to drag Syracuse’s name with it. Simply put, an addition of one team by the Big 10 means the Orange is staying put. Three-team expansion, chances are better to be added. Five new schools means SU fans better start boning up on their Fighting Illini news and notes.

But the entire process is driven by media markets and how many eye balls the Big 10 Network can draw. Because of this, Rutgers – despite a beyond awful football program for almost a century and atrocious basketball – is all of a sudden one of the prettiest girls at the party.

Huh? Rutgers? Blech.

The 20 million television viewers in the greater New York area is the ONLY allure for Rutgers. Improving facilities? Recent football success? Please. The Knights still haven’t even won the conference. Wake me up when Rutgers actually survives the death gauntlet known as Big East football.

It comes down to geography and while Rutgers is physically closest to New York City, Syracuse has always had a foothold there because of its thousands of NYC alumni.

Paul Tagliabue is advising the Big East through this era of conference cannibalism. Tags seems keen on the new football matchups.

“Is Minnesota and Rutgers going to get a big rating on Long Island? Give me a break. Every game isn’t Michigan and Michigan State. Am I going to rush home from a tennis game on Saturday to watch Minnesota and Rutgers if I live on Long Island?”

I’m not quite sure why he’s so hellbent on the Rutgers-Minnesota matchup, but there is a point there somewhere. (BTW Talk about out of touch. How many college football fans play tennis for recreation?)

Gross angled years ago for a bigger Syracuse footprint in New York City. We all rolled our eyes. But now, it doesn’t seem so stupid. Convincing Big 10 officials of SU’s “eyeball quotient” may keep the Orange light flickering.

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