There are easy parts of this transition. There are extremely difficult parts of it. As Syracuse braces to join the ACC in a few years, the decision to latch onto a stable, profitable conference, instead of constantly bailing water out of the Big East’s boat is a relief. The dark side of the old scenario was Orange Nation waiting for the other shoe to drop – what would finally be the death knell to the conference? Now, we know SU will be fine for the foreseeable future, guaranteed a place mat at the BCS/SuperConference/Playoff dinner table, instead of begging for a seat in the foyer.
The Fizz’s Ongoing Coverage of the ACC Move
The flip side is obviously walking away from the greatest basketball conference in the country and turning a back on some of the most intense rivalries in college sports. Syracuse/UConn has become Big East basketball. The history with Georgetown. The epic clashes with Villanova. The gridiron battles with West Virginia. The border war with Rutgers. The most glorious week in college basketball: MSG in March. How do we move forward happily when we leave what is so much a part of us behind?
In many ways, I hope the ACC adopts Rutgers and UConn as the final teams to flesh out 16 – just so we have some semblance of the good ol’ days in the new, bizarre future. I’ve watched up close in Boston as BC fans still lament the loss of the old regional rivalries, 400 miles away from their next closest conference foe. The Eagles are a rudderless ship in athletics, trying to create animosity towards Clemson and Florida State. During a four-month season, there are exactly two basketball games anyone cares about: Duke and UNC. It’s a lethargic and meandering athletic existence.
But an ACC North division with Syracuse, Pitt, BC, Rutgers, UConn (and for argument’s sake Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech) has some juice. It brings together six old Big East schools and reestablishes those old matchups within a stronger, more stable dynamic. For as much as we all hate Storrs Community College, the clashes with Calhoun-Bot 3000 has helped defined our program.
While the existing Big East is putting on a brave face and the reports of UConn and Rutgers coming into the ACC have been placed on hold, we know either school would jump immediately at a chance to leave. The Big East is far too unstable – a table with three legs. How can you place your undying faith in the country’s sixth most important football conference with the very real possibility of only four making it out alive?
But if the Huskies and Knights do stay put, SU is at a huge advantage in football recruiting in the Northeast. SU may actually take a slight hit on the hoops trail – there will be always be New York City/Philly/DC kids who dream of playing at Madison Square Garden every March and on Big Monday throughout the season. The lure of trips to the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor hasn’t helped BC beat UConn to any elite New England kids.
But battling UConn and Rutgers for football recruits will open up so many doors. You can guarantee a chance to play in a conference title game. Florida kids can get their shot to go back home and take on the big boys that passed them over, Florida State and Miami. The ACC television contract is far superior in football to the Big East. No more making sure recruit’s parents have ESPN3 via their cable provider. Maybe the next Chad Kelly or Jarron Jones decide playing ACC football closer to home is worth sticking around for.
The dust has yet to settle, and the college football picture gets cloudier by the day. Some of this is still hard to digest. Leaving behind the generations of blood feuds is terrifying. Who can we hate now? But the possibility of an enormous jump start to the football program is as equally exciting.