We’re approaching the end of a typical Syracuse sports-less summer, but you’d be forgiven if you aren’t suffering Carrier Dome atmosphere withdrawals. There’s plenty of SU sports headlines to go around: we’ve got ‘Cuse athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics, ACC Kickoff going on, and Boeheim’s Army getting TBT play under way.
With that in mind, you’d be forgiven if you haven’t paid much attention to the sudden discontent within a few NCAA conferences around the nation. Specifically, Big 12 heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma have both explored joining the SEC. Sensing trouble, Kansas kicked the tires on a possible journey to the Big 10. This has left the rest of the Big 12 in imminent danger of collapsing as a conference – understandably, you can’t survive with Iowa State football as your most marketable product.
Here at the Fizz, we’ve written about why Syracuse should feel good (and perhaps a bit vindicated after the fact) about sitting pretty in the ACC after it fled the Big East back in 2013. However, the ACC can’t get complacent. If the Big 12 goes down, its teams have to find greener pastures. If the ACC needs to take in a team, it needs to choose quickly and wisely to avoid taking on an awkward misfit like, say, UConn during its confusing seven-year stay in the American Conference.
With that in mind, the ACC might want to look at getting proactive and inviting West Virginia if the Big 12 falls.
SU fans might turn their noses up at the prospect of the Mountaineers in the ACC, but it makes a lot of sense. West Virginia entered the Big East for football only prior to the 1991 season during the conference’s first wave of expansion. That expansion also introduced current ACC members Miami and Virginia Tech into the mix.
After West Virginia’s entry into the Big East, they played current ACC teams like Syracuse, BC, Pitt, and the two I mentioned above in football until 1995, when WVU transitioned their other sports to Big East play as well. This stayed that way until 2012. That’s a good 17 years of history with quite a few current ACC entrants. You could argue WVU would be more at home in the ACC against its old rivals than it has been against Kansas State and company since 2012.
On the Syracuse side of things, you don’t have to look too far for recent history between these two teams. SU beat the Will Grier-less Mountaineers in the 2018 Camping World Bowl for the 61st (!) all-time meeting between the two teams. In basketball, the Orange just suffocated WVU this past March Madness to advance to the Sweet 16. Go further back, and who can forget Syracuse’s 1987 last-second win (and the electric accompanying call) over WVU to cap off an undefeated football regular season?
Instability within the NCAA is never a good thing, but the ACC has weathered challenges like it before. Make no mistake: if WVU has to move, the ACC (and SU) should be happy to gain from it – it would be a better outcome than many, many alternatives.