As I sit here at about 2:30pm on September 17, 2011, the talk of the town (well, the interwebs anyway) isn't focused on the big football game tonight between Syracuse and Southern California. Instead, we're all abuzz with word that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have applied for membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
First reported late last night by New York Times reporter Pete Thamel, my initial reaction was "NOOOOOOO!" I was hoping he was wrong, that his source was drunk on a Friday night. But now, over 15 hours later, this story has picked up traction and it seems inevitable.
To serve as some background, the ACC raided the Big East some eight years ago by grabbing Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami. Syracuse had been in that conversation initially, and our collective sigh of relief when we remained in the Big East could have blown down Nancy Cantor's then yet-to-be-built wall. At that early time, the ACC saw how important it was to have a 12-school league to allow for the football championship game. The Big Ten, also eager to play a championship game, created its own television network and went out to add a twelfth member (Nebraska). Same with the Pac-10, who added Colorado and Utah. This left the Big 12 with ten members and no championship game. In the process, Texas created its own TV network, which evidently hasn't sat well with the league's other nine schools. Meanwhile, Texas Christian University, a member of the non-BCS conference Mountain West, was accepted to join the Big East beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, giving the conference nine football schools and 17 basketball schools. Then, Big 12 member Texas A&M decided it wanted to move to greener pastures, gave the Big 12 its notice, and applied and was accepted into the Southeastern Conference. While this was all happening, the Big East reportedly was in talks with some remaining members of the Big 12, namely Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Baylor. I figured they would eventually see the writing on the wall that the Big 12 was destined to die, and they'd jump to the Big East. We'd be sitting pretty, especially with the lure of the league's TV contract expiring and the prospect of landing a huge deal.
But, that didn't happen. Any "talking" the Big East had with those Big 12 schools wasn't good enough. It's like having the engagement ring in your pocket, seeing the perfect time to propose to your girlfriend, and then just kind of looking at her paralyzed. So, credit to the Presidents/ADs for Syracuse and Pittsburgh for realizing that hey, our league's not doing what it has to do to survive, so we have to look out for ourselves.
And that's exactly how I see it.
I'm not happy that this likely spells the end of the road for the Big East. I hate that we're becoming everything we hated on when BC/VTech/Miami left. I hate that the ACC wins. But, I love that Syracuse won't be left out in the cold in the conference shakeup madness.
And so, life goes on. We have a nationally televised game tonight against the once-mighty Trojans. We're all upset-minded, so I guess it seems fitting that Syracuse & Pitt upset the Big East today. But let's start looking forward to the future... we get to renew that yearly rivalry with Boston College! I mean, they can now be conference games again. And Coach K now will be required to play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. And, let's admit, the ACC lacrosse conference will be so much better than the Big East lacrosse conference. Plus, don't think for a second that Georgetown and UConn won't be on our basketball schedule every year.
We'll have much more conference expansion talk here on Orange::44 as more details are confirmed. But, we're living in a bright new world today. Enjoy it.
Labels: ACC YA