As you may have noticed around here, pickins are slim for stuff to talk about. Thank God for the Get To Know Your Orange Man series.
That's why things like the SB Nation NCAA Conference Re-Draft Project are important. If we don't focus our efforts on things like this, we'll be left to our own devices. And left to our devices, we'll ruin our lives faster than NFL players without a football season.
Personally, I wish the rules were to actually try an rebuild conference based on regions but, we work with the arbitrary conference re-drafting projects we have, not the ones we wish we had or want. What this version does is level the playing field. The conference commissioners choose solely on overall value. You'll know a lot about the perceived value of your school after this.
And that brings us to exactly what it is that these commissioners are looking for. You can read all about the draft here, but let's focus on the criteria for selection.
While obviously we must consider athletics, the following are factors you may, but are not required to consider:
Weather/Desirability of Destination
TV Revenue Potential
Rivalries (two teams)
On the flipside, for purposes of this game there are two factors that are NOT to be considered. First, do not take travel/geographic concerns into consideration (I told you we invented teleporting). In real life, Washington and Florida are unrealistic conference partners; in our world, that doesn't matter -- neither from a travel or time zone standpoint. Second, and related, while we may take individual rivalries into consideration (e.g. pairing Michigan and Ohio State), preservation of current conference history/rivalry/alliance is not to be considered. Hopefully for obvious reasons.
After the jump we will get into each category, and see how Syracuse stacks up with the rest of the country.
Athletics: Go ahead, mock our recent football program if you like. Truth is, Syracuse Athletics is a wise investment. The football program had nowhere to go but up and its doing so faster than expected under a coach who would rather be at SU than any other program in the nation (he's probably the only one). Our basketball program is considered one of the top in the nation and is a consistent NCAA Tournament team. Our men's lacrosse program is THE best in the entire nation. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Once you get past the Big Three, know that Syracuse is arguably at the best point in its history in terms of Olympic sports and women's sports. The women's lacrosse, basketball, softball, volleyball, field hockey and cross country teams are all performing well and making their respective postseasons regularly. The men's cross country team is among the best around, the soccer team is on the rise and our track and field ain't too shabby.
We're going to finish this year ranked somewhere around 50-52nd overall in the NACDA Rankings, just shy of our best ranking ever. And those programs are only just beginning to compete nationally.
Academics: In 2010, U.S. News & World Report ranked Syracuse number 55 among undergraduate national universities. A 2008 survey in the Academic Ranking of World Universities places Syracuse University in the top 100 world universities in social sciences. The industrial design program is ranked 13th nationally by the same 2009 issue of DesignIntelligence. The School of Architecture's Bachelor of Architecture program was ranked second nationally in 2010 by the journal DesignIntelligence in its annual edition of "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools."
If you want prestige, look no further than Newhouse. If you're watching a sports reporter or listening to a sportscaster, there's a solid chance that person went to SU. And the School of Information Studies has the third best graduate program in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report.
Co-eds: You know, I'm not gonna try and tell you we can compete with Texas, Kentucky and Florida. That said, we don't exactly do that shabby here. College Prowler gives us a B-, whatever that means. BroBible has the rundown and the photographic evidence. And you know what, if its good enough for Otto, it's good enough for you.
Location: Toughie. I probably can't sell you on Syracuse winters. Fair enough. But what I can tell you is that Upstate NY is gorgeous the rest of the time. What do you like? Skiing? Boating? Hiking? Camping? Gorge-walking? All of that is within easy reach. Plus, we're two hours from Canada, three hours from NYC and four hours from Philadelphia. Plenty of access to the Northeast's major cities.
TV Market: Yes, Syracuse is merely the 83rd-ranked market but don't be fooled. Syracuse's reach goes way beyond that. We're the only FBS football school in the State of NY and we're basically the college team of Buffalo (51), Albany (58) and Rochester (81). Oh and did I mention we're New York's College Team? That means we've got a decent audience in a little place called New York City (#1). And if you don't think we draw well in NYC, check out Madison Square Garden next time we play there.
Historic Success/Traditions: You want history and tradition? We've got history and tradition coming out our ying-yangs.
In football we've got a National Title ('59) and a Heisman Trophy winner (Ernie Davis), not to mention the Legend of #44 (Jim Brown, Davis, Floyd Little). We've got more NFL greats in our ranks than you probably realize. Oh and we're currently tied for 16th all-time in NCAA wins with Georgia Tech (ahead of Texas A&M, Pitt, Washington, Florida and many more).
Our basketball program has been around since the beginning of the 20th century and is arguably one of the ten best programs all-time. We recently won our 1,800th game and we're fifth on the NCAA’s all-time wins list. We've got four Final Fours, an NCAA National Title and two Helms National Titles if you're into counting those. We've got this guy named Jim Boeheim coaching us, you may have heard of him. He's been involved with the program one way or another since the 60's and he's the fifth-winningest coach in Division-1 history. His SU roommate, Dave Bing was just one of the many superstars to grace the uniform, including Vic Hansen, Roosevelt Bouie, Louie Orr, Pearl Washington, Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens, Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara.
Along with the Legend of 44 is the Legend of 22, a number given to only the very best Syracuse lacrosse players. Worn by legends like Gary Gait and The Powell Brothers, it's a badge of honor for the top program in the nation that's been winning National Titles since you were a wee pup.
Rivalries: You want rivalries? We've got rivalries. In basketball, we've got some of the strongest, most historically-charged and and exciting rivalries around. All you need to know about Syracuse-Georgetown is the "Manley Field House is now closed" game and take it from there. If Georgetown is rival #1, UConn is rival #1A. And don't look past our rivalries with Villanova, St. John's, Pitt and Seton Hall as well.
In football, we don't have anything like Michigan-Ohio State but he do have a lot of history. We've been playing West Virginia and Pitt every year since the 50's and there's been a lot of great games in between. While they're not in our conference, we've got a lot of great history with Penn State and Boston College, both of whom we'll be playing a lot in the coming decade. And then there's the budding Tri-State rivalry between SU, UConn and Rutgers as the three programs battle for NY/NJ/Conn recruits.
In lacrosse, our rivalry with Virginia couldn't be scripted better. Every season we're both among the top teams in the nation and every year the game is a classic, coming down to the final moments. Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Princeton and Colgate also provide strong rivalry games, as does Notre Dame now in the young Big East Conference.
So there you go. I don't have any illusions of seeing SU get snatched up in the first couple rounds. We're a private university, our enrollment doesn't match the big state schools and we are perceived as a regional school athletically. That said, I think it's fair to expect us to go off the board sooner than later. Once the football powerhouses are gone and the commissioners start looking at overall value and TV market penetration. It's all about penetration for Syracuse University.