NY Times writer Pete Thamel had a solid write-up on the one issue that some people still don't seem to grasp about the Big Ten expansion the role Syracuse could play in it. It's all about football, folks. Basketball is nice and Syracuse comes steeped up to its eyeballs in tradition and cache in that regard...but basketball doesn't put (figurative) food on the table. Football does.
One certainty was reaffirmed, though. Every major decision will be based on two factors: money and football. That has become clear in the uncertainty surrounding the Big East, which could lose multiple teams to the Big Ten largely because the conference television payout is projected to be nearly triple the Big East’s $7 million for football programs.
As Thamel says, if Syracuse has to decide whether or not to jump, it will not let the Georgetown basketball rivalry hold it back. As you can imagine, Jim Boeheim is not pleased by that knowledge. You already knew Jimmy B was against the notion of going to the Big Ten. I mean, this guy is more responsible for the Big East than any other active member of the league.
"is in the A.C.C., and no one cares about it there," Boeheim said of the former Big East program that joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005. "They have hung on in football, but Miami and Florida State will get strong again and they’ll be an afterthought in football.
"I don’t think we’ll do well in the Big Ten. It’s possible, but I don’t think we’d do well at all. I just don’t see how Syracuse or Rutgers fits in with Iowa and Illinois."
First...ouch B.C. I wouldn't say no one cares but certainly BC is more of a middle-of-the-pack program in the ACC than it was in the Big East. The Eagles had a great thing going in basketball and football and could have dominated the conference for a while. Of course, they'll probably counter that by saying they've made more money in the last five years than they ever could have in the Big East, and therein lies the point.
As for "I just don’t see how Syracuse or Rutgers fits in with Iowa and Illinois," I see Jim's point and at the same time I don't see it at all. Sure, it sounds weird to suddenly consider Illinois and Iowa rivals. Guess what else sounded really weird? Suddenly considering Cincinnati, Marquette, DePaul, Louisville and South Florida rivals. Now we don't even question it (except for DePaul, which we greatly question) but its not really that much different. Becoming Ohio State's rival is not a good idea but being Cincinnati's rival is? Logic go boom.
Boeheim also questions whether or not New York City kids will want to play for Big Ten schools, which, again, is weird because they already do. And I really don't think high school athletes who are so good that they receive scholarship offers from Big Ten and Big East schools get too caught up on conference alignments. And if nearby programs like Syracuse, Rutgers and UConn are in the Big Ten, what's the alternative? Playing for Seton Hall in a depleted Big East? Meh.
Speaking of Seton Hall, we have to end with their new head coach Kevin Willard's comments. When asked about the effect the possible moves will have on the nonfootball schools, Willard offers up this dubious piece of revisionist history.
"You look at the core of what makes the Big East, it’s the nonfootball schools."
To be fair, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's and Providence have provided the conference with a lot of great memories and moments. And almost all of those memories and moments took place in the 1980's. If you want great Big East memories since then, you have to look to Syracuse, UConn, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami and Pittsburgh. Not to say the nonfootball schools haven't had their moments, but, more often then not it's the other way around.