Maryland will accept the invitation to join the Big 10, and with it Rutgers will have a dance partner into its dream conference. So does this mean for SU’s new conference and its old one? None of it is good news on any front for the Orange. Here’s why:
- It hurts the ACC.
The Terps were the very definition of the league. From old Cole Field House, to Len Bias, Joe Smith and the ’02 title run, Maryland has been part of the great basketball lineage of that league. Maryland vs. UNC and Duke have been terrific match ups for decades, and the thought of a traditional ACC component departing makes the conference a little less magical.
There also seemed to set up a nice northeast division for Syracuse to land in. SU used to play Maryland regularly before the inception of the Big East football conference. Syracuse, Pitt, BC, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Notre Dame and Virginia would’ve made a comfortable “North” for the Orange, from a competitive and travel standpoint. Take one more block from that game of Jenga.
- It helps Rutgers.
This is the best case scenario for the Scarlet Knights, after sinking millions of dollars into their athletic program for over a decade. Since the hiring of Crazy Eyes Schiano, RU has believed it could revamp its sports department by pouring money and resources into it. But when Syracuse and Pitt got the invites, it appeared Rutgers was left in the cold, holding its jock in a pathetic newly refigured Big East. Now, Syracuse’s advantage over Rutgers becomes naught on the recruiting trail. While Syracuse can play the ACC card for southern talent, the Knights can throw down the Big 10 card for the northeastern prep stars. The moves will obvious help both schools advance their recruiting, but SU’s short-lived tri-state leg up on Rutgers will disappear.
- It opens the door for UConn.
It’s a sad state of affairs when you want to not only open new doors for yourself, but close them in the face of rivals. But that’s what the new landscape of college athletics is. Syracuse’s move to the ACC was valuable in part because Rutgers and UConn were trapped in the disaster that is the Big East. Now, with RU to the Big 10 and an empty slot open for the Huskies, that advantage dissipates. It’s possible Connecticut still gets stonewalled. Boston College has a long-standing feud with the brain trust in Storrs, so the Eagles may continues to strong arm any attempt by the ACC to absorb the Huskies. But if the league wants to replace Maryland, UConn would be a seemingly easy fit. It’s a tremendous basketball program with a popular brand, and plenty of TV sets in the Nutmeg State.
- It creates more instability in the ACC.
The league would’ve had 14 football schools starting next year, plus Notre Dame’s one foot in/one foot out relationship. There can still be an ACC title game in football with just 13 programs, but it creates an unbalanced conference on the gridiron. The ACC can just try to make it work with 13 football teams, and add the Irish for the rest of the sports and claim its 14 members. Or it can push ever harder for Notre Dame to join in football, giving more allowances and making it more appealing (preferable for Syracuse). Or the league can go searching for a new partner. UConn, Lousiville, and USF would jump at the opportunity. But none of them really enhance the value of the ACC, and only helps elevate SU’s rivals.
It’s also hard to believe that even a $50 million exit fee wouldn’t be enough of a deterrent for the Terps. But if Maryland can make 50-large work (legally or with help from the Big 10) then the old worries about Clemson or Florida State bailing for the SEC are once again in play.
The only good news? We don’t have to stare at those hideous Maryland football uniforms on Saturdays and Randy Edsall will officially get his ass kicked 19 ways every weekend in the Big 10.
One idea to toss into the garbage can is whether Syracuse should’ve grabbed Rutgers’ place in the Big 10. That never would’ve happened. While SU’s athletic history is far superior to RU’s, the Big 10 was looking for large state schools (who get an added advantage of government money). Also, while SU can boast about its alumni in the Big Apple, Rutgers actually plays in the most densely populated state in America. We all know RU doesn’t move the needle in NYC, but it is situated in a region with far more cable TV boxes for the Big 10 Network than CNY. When SU had the chance to bolt the Big East for the security of the ACC it had to do it. The Orange would’ve been waiting for a bus that never came if it held out for a Big 10 slot.
As a Syracuse fan it’s hard to throw stones at any program that chose money over tradition. The Orange did the same exact thing 14 months ago (although the Big East was clearly a fading dinosaur in college athletics, while the ACC was positioned extremely well). But so spins the college sports carousel. Where it stops? Nobody wants to know.