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Streaming Thoughts and Wasteful Notions

Editor's Note: Conspiracy theories -- or its cousin, "conjecture" -- is not a pursuit of this notebook. Notably, alternative Internet mediums -- be it message communities or blogs -- fail to operate with significance when discussion deviates from documented fact to a malaise of tenuously supported opinion.

It is July, however, and the preseason period will not open in earnest for another week or so. As such, some random musings are in order.

What follows should not be construed as anything other than conjecture. Known states of affairs have been connected to create what can only be termed as "unreasonable reasoning." Its grounding in reality, therefore, is obviously open to debate. -M.G.

It is not surprising to see that the Big Ten Conference's announcement that expansion is back on the league's agenda has captured the intrigue of the college football community. Syracuse, according to the Des Moines Register, is an apparent target for membership. Many individuals and media outlets have weighed in on Syracuse's candidacy. The sentiments have ranged from surprise to knee-jerk acceptance.

The most interesting aspect, though, is that Syracuse appears to have anticipated such a candidacy. At best, the institution has put such circumstances in motion.

Pertinently, Jim Delaney -- the Big Ten Conference's current Commissioner -- would not announce such an endeavor had he not already engaged in some sort of investigatory experiment. In order to adequately gauge which direction expansion would take place, conversations must have occurred, both within and without of the conference. To do otherwise would lead to some degree of chaos if proper preparation and due diligence did not occur.

Such an assumption is grounded in Penn State's migration to the Big Ten Conference. While set in secrecy, the expansion did not occur on a whim. Penn State knew it was a target and prepared accordingly.

This is where Syracuse comes in. Ever since the Orange failed to move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, much speculation has taken place as to the viability of the Big East Conference. To assume that Syracuse has not explored options to secure its athletic future is to ignore the fact that the Big East Conference is, at best, a loose affiliation of universities attempting to sustain order through an otherwise tenuously beneficial relationship.

To wit, Jake Crouthamel and the Syracuse administration dragged its feet through the Atlantic Coast Conference membership evaluation process, yet was still prepared to accept an offer if extended. The only reason the migration did not occur was because of the Virginia legislature's strong-arming of Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford.

Moreover, Syracuse's abstention from the lawsuit against the Big East Conference defectors supports the notion that the university maintained the foresight to recognize that if in the future Syracuse would receive another membership offer, it would not erode or tarnish the goodwill it has created with its Big East Conference affiliates.

This prior history strongly indicates that Syracuse is far from opposed to changing its league affiliation. In contrast, it shows that Syracuse has been open to assessing its options should an opportunity arise.

The opportunity, apparently, has arise. The only thing that is up to debate is when the opportunity first arose. Given Syracuse's actions over the last two years, the possibility likely arose long before Jim Delaney gave his interview to the Des Moines Register.

The facts are almost oppressive:

  • The Big Ten Conference is looking to target the New York City market. For at least the last two years Syracuse has put out a marketing blitz in The City. From establishing a radio affiliate, to hanging billboard and taxi signs, to an affiliation with SNY, Syracuse's "Orange in the Apple" campaign appears eerily consistent with the Big Ten's desire.

  • The Big Ten Conference is built on regional support of its collegiate members. When you have large state institutions, large regional partisans are bound to follow. Syracuse -- one of upstate New York's many private universities -- has attempted to extend its reach through an effort to label the Orange as New York's "team." From stickers on helmets to banners in the Carrier Dome, the Syracuse Department of Athletics is trying to develop a state school feel in a private environment.

  • The Big Ten Conference is all about tradition and an old-school Saturday afternoon feel. Syracuse's branding effort over the last few seasons has brought back the throwback look. From uniforms to a new/old "Block S" logo, Syracuse's branding is in-line with that of the Big Ten Conference (even if met with mixed reviews).

  • Then there is the scheduling. While put in motion well before Dr. Daryl Gross took the reigns, it has shown that Syracuse has and will compete in the Big Ten Conference. In just the last two seasons Syracuse has faced Illinois and Iowa. In the near future, Syracuse will square off against Northwestern, Penn State, and the aforementioned last two clubs.

  • Finally, there are Syracuse's facilities upgrades. The Carrier Dome has received extensive upgrades and cosmetic facelifts. At the Lampe Athletic Complex, Syracuse has pretty much overhauled the entire site, constructing a new, state-of-the-art weight room, installed new practice fields, and brought the entire complex up to contemporary standards. Such developments are not just to lure recruits; it is to lure potential conference suitors.
The evidence is not overwhelming, but it is at least inducive of the fact that Syracuse may have heard of the opportunity previously and is preparing for a full exploration.

If this is actually the case, then one would assume that Syracuse is a serious candidate if not a primary candidate. That fact puts Syracuse in a position of leverage not seen since the great league debacle of 2003.

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1 Responses to “Streaming Thoughts and Wasteful Notions”

  1. # Blogger Geneseo98

    Very insightful stuff. Never put 2 and 2 together that way (especially with the NYC/NY's team branding, which would look very attractive in the Big Ten's eyes).

    There's no doubt Syracuse is a better geographical and institutional fit than Rutgers for the Big Ten... and Pittsburgh won't give the Big Ten anything "NEW" with that 12th member...

    I admit the idea is warming up on me, one of the most old-school Big East fans.  

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