FanPost

Love, Arranged Marriages, and our move to the ACC

The nature of being a fan is innately illogical. It's a lot like being married to and loving an inherently selfish and self-interested woman. You invest a significant amount of time, money, energy, thought, and love in her and in return you mostly experience heartbreak and/or anger. Sure, she looks good on paper, and things are fine most of the time, hell once you even have hot marathon sex in New York City for 3 hours and 46 minutes, but when it comes down to it, you're always going to love her more than she loves you and the only time you're going to be truly happy is when she's truly happy, and she hasn't been truly happy since like April of 2003 (note: she was pretty happy on Memorial Day of '04, '08, and '09, but to a lesser extent). Why? Cuz you want it all and so does she (for vastly different reasons), but that sort of happiness is tough to come by cuz bitches* be trippin, yo! Especially when they're messing around with dudes from schools like Vermont and Butler.

The nature of overseeing a sports team (or entire athletic program) is fundamentally more logical. It's much more akin to an arranged marriage. You set aside love and think in practical terms... how can you ensure stability, longevity, functionality, and of course an excellent dowry.

So as a fan analyzing Syracuse's departure to the ACC, it's easy to analyze the situation with emotion. And it's easy to point to Doc Gross and accuse him of being a cold, calculating bastard. But it's his job to set aside emotion and focus on practicalities. He's getting attacked from fans and pundits alike for being a traitor, but the guy was simply doing his job, being proactive, rather than reactive. And yes, of course there would've been a seat at the table for Syracuse somewhere, but it's Doc Gross' job to try to find the best match for us and the biggest dowry. He did that. Some have accused him of terrible timing, making the announcement on the day Dave Gavvit died. Sure, that wasn't ideal, but it's not exactly like they had a lot of control over that and it wasn't nearly as bad as if the announcement came the day before Gavitt died. 

I feel it's safe to say that from a business perspective, this was the best move Doc Gross could've made. As Jim Boeheim correctly pointed out, this is about money and football. And even though I'm much more interested in our basketball team, I get the realities of collegiate sports. And for those who say, but the ACC isn't really any better than the Big East. Look at the name test. Florida St. Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Louisville. My wife, an Oregon alumnus, had never heard of South Florida, thought Cinnci and Louisville only played basketball, and correctly pointed out that our best team is a bunch of inbred hicks. Perception is reality when it comes to attendance and tv ratings. Our football program is in a better place and our basketball program will be just fine in the ACC. And to Doc Gross, that's the bottom line and the bottom line is all that matters.

To a fan, there are other things to wrestle with. I've spent a lot of time over the past few days thinking about the all the good (and bad) times we've had with Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, and Connecticut (note: no good times have ever been had with Louisville). But Connecticut is likely coming with us. And I can't imagine a scenario in which we don't play Georgetown every year (much the same way Louisville and UK play every year). I assume that we'll be playing St. John's on the regular too, if for no other reason than access to MSG and NYC. And as much as enjoy playing Villanova, I'm looking forward to playing Duke and UNC every year more than I'm sad about (maybe) not getting to play Villanova.

The thing that pains me the most is the loss of the Big East Tournament... for my money, the best collegiate tournament. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. I'll venture to say that in terms of quality of play and atmosphere, the Big East Tournament has been a better tournament than March Madness over the past decade. When I watch a video of Gerry's epic run, I invariably tear up.. Every time. I cried tears of relief when we won the NCAA's in 2003, a monkey having been lifted from my back. It was like losing my virginity. But if I'm being honest, I was so nervous in both instances, I couldn't really enjoy myself. No, winning a National Championship wasn't the apex of triumph for me, it merely broke open the emotional ceiling, allowing me to truly cherish and enjoy the 6OT game and the 2006 Big East Tournament. And it terrifies me that I'll never have a moment as wonderfully intense and satisfying as those two. And of course I've heard we may play ACC tournament games at MSG and I'm sure it will be rocking and I'm sure the ACC will be the best basketball conference in the country (especially if UCONN joins us), but it just seems different. And I don't know why. I guess I'm just attached to our history on an emotional level and change is scary and unsettling. 

So in these times of uncertainty, I find myself trying to think a bit more like Doc Gross. Because let's be honest, it doesn't matter which conference we're in, we're going to love our self-interested girl no matter what, through thick and thin, even when she breaks our heart, because I will gladly endure a dysfunctional relationship as long as there's hope around the bend (and I think there's plenty. Loving her is just what we do. It's not rational. Let's leave the rationality to Doc Gross and let him worry about the bottom line and all the stupid practicalities. And let's move on and start doing what we do, irrationally loving our girl no matter whether she lives in the Big East or the ACC.

*Or "bros" - not trying to be sexist here. Just making an awesome metaphor.

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