Ever since Oklahoma and Texas announced their intentions to leave the Big 12 for the SEC last summer, more dominoes have been falling into place. BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston to the Big 12. Six Conference USA schools joining the American. The latest realignment news were announced Thursday, and they have sent shockwaves throughout college sports.
That’s right. USC and UCLA are leaving the PAC-12 for the Big Ten. The “Alliance” is as good as dead. Arguably the two most high-profile schools in the conference are leaving even though the realignment makes no sense geographically. See for yourself…
This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s approximately a 21 1/2 hour drive from Los Angeles to the nearest Big 10 school (Nebraska). Heck, try this stat on for size:
That is absolute bollocks.
So what does this mean for Syracuse and the ACC? As of right now, the ACC is the only Power Five conference that has not been directly affected by conference realignment, i.e. no one has left and no one is coming in. SU brass as well as ACC brass better hope that remains the case.
Let’s start with the Orange. In many aspects, Syracuse Athletics as a whole is still transitioning from the move to the ACC from the Big East all those years ago. The women’s basketball (with the exception of this past season) and women’s lacrosse teams haven’t missed a beat, but the men’s basketball program has not been as dominant as in years past, the football team has been up and (way) down, and the men’s lacrosse team was a nonfactor in the ACC this past year. If ACC movement begins to happen, it’s hard to imagine administration wouldn’t at least think about moving back to the Big East and potentially becoming an independent for football. Terrible idea. Given the struggles that have occurred since the move from the Big East, it wouldn’t suit SU at all to realign. That being said, the only way it would even consider it is if teams start to trickle in and out of the ACC, so god forbid that happens.
As for the ACC, imagine if Louisville, Miami, or Florida State decides to leave. Three of the most well-balanced athletics programs in the entire conference. If any one of them takes off, it could diminish an already-diminishing conference entirely. Despite good results in the NCAA Tournament, it was not a good basketball season for the conference (five teams made the tournament, just one was a top-5 seed). The conference can’t afford to have a team leave, and bringing a team in wouldn’t exactly elevate the play. Use SU as an example.
If USC and UCLA’s move means one thing and one thing only for Syracuse and the entire ACC, it’s that they need to be afraid. Very, very afraid. Right now, the SEC and Big Ten are turning into juggernauts in the college sports realm. The Pac-12 and Big 12 are quickly losing their moxie. Under no circumstances can Syracuse or the ACC sit back and let the two new “super conferences” tear the ACC to shreds. Syracuse changed conferences once back in 2013. That was one time too many. Let’s hope the other ACC schools follow this logic too, or the national pristine of SU and the conference could disappear entirely.