Here goes, my first all sports theme blog (well, almost all). In the past 2 days the college sports world has been in major upheaval mode with the announcement that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East for the ACC. Let’s take a look at how this will effect my beloved SU sports teams.
First a little background about my SU/Big East life and, for those of you new to big time college athletics, some basic info.
Ira, SU and the Big East
I was there for the last game in Archibold Stadium, the last game in Manley Field House, the first football game in the dome and the first basketball game in the dome. I remember life without the Big East, the first Big East Tournament, a time when the tournament was not in Madison Square Garden every year, when SU basketball wasn’t on television for almost every game. I will miss the Big East but change was inevitable and it’s better to be the first one out the door than the ones left behind when the door closes.
- College sports is big business. A multi-billion dollar a year industry with major TV contracts, endorsements deals, etc. Purity in college sports went out years ago. If you want purity in sports, try little league (oh that doesn’t work either).
- Do you know who the highest paid state employee is in some states (Alabama, Florida, Ohio)? The head coach of the states college football team. These guys make millions on their contracts and millions on their endorsement deals. Not passing judgement but this is stuff you need to know when judging the ever changing college sports landscape.
- As much as we SU fans think basketball is the greatest thing in all of college athletics, football generates more revenue than basketball by better than 2:1 and colleges rely on this revenue stream to support all the non-revenue generating sports. For instance, a Big 10 Team (which has 12 teams but don’t get me started on that) takes in $22,000,000 from it’s TV contract. Of that, $16,000,000 is football. My numbers might be off some but you should get the picture.
For all you SU fans out there, let’s make a few assumptions based on what’s being said on the news, internet sports forums, fan sites, blogs and other outlets.
Assumption 1 – The ACC had 10 schools contact them about membership. If you think one or two of those schools wasn’t other Big East teams, well…you’d be wrong.
Assumption 2 – West Virginia has one foot out the door, maybe one foot plus another foot except for one toe which is being stubborn. They are going to the SEC and are just waiting for a few minor wrinkles to be worked out.
Assumption 3 – A major sports conference or two will not exist as we know it in the coming months. The Big East was not in a position of strength (contrary to what the folks in Providence would lead you to believe) because it’s the 7th ranked football conference in the country, behind the WAC if you can believe that one. We let the little basketball schools have to much power when we should have been getting rid of the weaker links and adding some teams with ready to go football programs (like UCF and not Villanova).
The Cons of Leaving the Big East
The biggest and maybe the only reason not to leave the Big East is tradition: Mostly the annual game against Georgetown, games in the NY Metro area and The Big East Tournament. We were one of the founding members of the Big East and it’s sad to see us move on but I believe the Big East as we know it is dead and has been dying for a couple of years, they just didn’t know it. The body was there but the head was stuck in Providence and that’s no place for a big time college sport conference to have decisions being made because Providence is not big time college sports team or town.
The Pros of Leaving the Big
There are lots of good reason to leave the big east. In no particular order, here are some those:
- First and foremost, money which the SU athletic department needs. We have a first rate basketball practice facility (thank you Mr. Anthony) and 2nd rate football facilities which need improvement and the university is trying. We need a full sized indoor football practice facility (which is planned but needs funding), we need to upgrade the dome (or even replace it) and we need to insure the continued success of our non-revenue generating sports, which are performing quite nicely these for the most part.
- Good bye to the old rivals and hello to some new one – Duke and UNC should do just fine for basketball. Plus for football we get to bring back BC, Miami and VT on a regular basis and those were always fun games.
- Oh….my…god…can you say this is one mother of lacrosse conference? If there’s a stronger conference in any one sport in college athletics, let me know. For those of you who have never been to a lacrosse game or seen one on TV, jump in because it’s great sport and the greatest team in the history of college lacrosse is the Orange of Syracuse.
- Now pictures this…the annual Orange Out game on a Saturday night and it’s SU v Duke on National TV in front of 35,000+ screaming Orange fans. Gives me goose bumps.
- No more games at the RAC. Love the fact that they are in NJ but I hate that place. Just a glorified HS gym. Will miss the opportunity to pick a fight with some of their idiot fans (Rob, Pat…back me up on this one).
- Hopefully we get to screw Notre Dame and their holier than thou attitude. I’ve wanted to boot them out of the Big East for years and now we get to wave bye-bye. Notre Dame brings football to the table but not our table. They have their own TV contract and have been flipping the rest of the Big East the bird since they came in.
- Games in Miami. For those of us with elderly parents in Palm Beach County (a.k.a. The Jewish Virgin Islands) and the area, who go visit from time-to-time, now at least you have the added distraction of SU football or basketball to help make the trip worthwhile.
Assumptions Going Forward or How IraSez Sees the Future
- SU basketball in NYC is not dead. Dr. Gross and his crew are bringing SU football to the Meadowlands in the coming years so what makes you think they aren’t planning life in NYC after the Big East.
- SU and Georgetown figure out a way to continue what Sports Illustrated called one of the greatest college sports rivalries of all time. No way this baby dies.
- The ACC tournament comes to MSG! Not far fetched and already a major rumor. If your the big boys running the ACC do you want your tourny in Greensboro in Madison Square Garden? 4 days, a dozen games in front of the largest college basketball media frenzy this side of the final four. Rumors out there that the folks running the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn want in and will make a run at bring the ACC tourny to that new arena when it opens.
- And most importantly, we are going to assume that this will be good for SU, that the Big East is dead as a major football conference, that some Big East schools are about to join Conference USA or the MAC (USF and Cincinnati come to mind) and that SU the Orange will continue to thrive in their new home. Amen.