Leaving the Big East sucked. We all wax nostalgic about the best basketball tournament ever created, the Old Big East, a week of mayhem and madness in Manhattan. The new B.E.T. has lost a lot of the juice. Creighton and Butler just can’t replace Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame. And while the new ACC alignment still has its fair share of discomfort (we’re supposed to hate Clemson and NC State, I guess?), it’s far better than the alternative.
The news this week that Oklahoma and Texas are considering a move to the SEC is another reminder of how tenuous the structure of college sports is. If those two powers leave, the Big 12 essentially folds up shop like a Farmer’s Market. You can’t build a conference around Iowa State football and Kansas basketball. It’s the unfortunate truth. You need to have the suns at the center of your league solar systems.
If OU and UT head to the SEC, the Big 12 can’t just replace them with Boise State and UCF. That doesn’t cut it for television rights deals, championship sites, playoff appearances, and streams of revenue. If the SEC gobbles up two more of the nation’s powerhouses (despite the Longhorns decade of mediocrity), seats at the table get harder to find. Look no further than UConn.
When the Huskies were left behind in the ACC land grab, they were a sailor with no port. The American was a far cry from the regional battles they enjoyed with the Big East. That nonsensical “rivalry” they had with UCF was embarrassing. Hard to raise money and fan interest with “crucial” matchups against South Florida and Memphis.
Ultimately, the Huskies had to rejoin the Big East and let their football program fend for itself. The Big 12 could soon end up like the old Big East, the American or the Mountain West. A non-player in the football world. And while SU will never feel quite right battling Georgia Tech and Wake Forest as league rivals, the ACC is extremely strong. It’s well-positioned to survive whatever the next round of college turbulence is. It’ll have a place at the table of super conference negotiations. As the world turns, Syracuse is in a safe place.