DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03: Cameron Crazies make fun of Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels before the start of the game between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
We got our chance to talk about our future ACC rivals in the "Meet Your New Neighbors" series. Now those same folks that we lightly poked fun at get to offer up their own opinions of us! Each week, I'll be posting Q&A responses from one of the 12 current ACC schools, and I'll also be submitting to some questioning on their respective sites, too. It should be fun, and if we're lucky, people might get as angry as they did in the Virginia Tech profile comment thread.
This week, we got to sit down with Blue Devil Nation's Patrick Cacchio, who surprisingly covers something called "Duke football" (I kid).
Also see last week's conversation with Shakin' the Southland.
What are your thoughts on conference realignment overall?
Blue Devil Nation: Not to be overly pessimistic, but conference realignment/expansion appears to be an inevitable evil of the big business that is modern college athletics. With TV and advertising dollars soaring and endowments shrinking, schools are forced to find ways to maximize their athletic income. Football is obviously the most profitable sport and major driver of much of the change we’ve seen over the past few years. The ACC has to look for ways to protect and improve its brand; expansion into new markets is one of the ways to accomplish that goal. Unfortunately, it comes with several negatives: unbalanced conference schedules, increased travel for all sports teams, and the loss of traditional rivalries, among many others.
Was Syracuse your first choice for ACC expansion?
BDN: No, not the first choice, but it does fit the general criteria. I think most ACC fans would agree that Notre Dame is the school that seems most attractive for the conference. The Fighting Irish are a nice fit academically and athletically, and would give the ACC access to the Midwest market. That being said, the ideal expansion candidate is any school that has a strong athletic and academic reputation from a market that is additive to the conference’s current geographic footprint. Syracuse certainly fits that bill and has the added benefit of a large alumni and fan base in the nation’s largest TV market in New York (Ed note: Glad to see we're not the only ones who recognize this).
Do you think SU adds a lot of value for football, or is this purely a basketball move?
BDN: They certainly have the potential to add value for football, and in all sports (I'm looking forward to seeing the Orange lacrosse team in the ACC). Certainly, Doug Marrone has the football program revitalized, and if they are able to sustain that early success, they will be a terrific addition on the gridiron. Ultimately, though, I would think that joining the ACC should benefit Syracuse more than the conference. The ACC provides access to Southern recruiting hotbeds along with the opportunity to play against annual football powerhouses. Of course, no one expected Boston College to compete for ACC Championships as they did after their entrance.
On a related note, do you feel we're in the same echelon as Duke, UNC, UK & Kansas in basketball, or are we part of an undefined "second-tier?"
BDN: Absolutely. Syracuse is a perennial National Championship contender, and that’s exactly what it takes to be among the NCAA’s elite. With an iconic HOF coach in Jim Boeheim, the Orange will be another ACC powerhouse program on the hardwood. Certainly, some of the traditional Big East rivalries will be missed, but new ones are sure to be born.
Any tips for getting by in the ACC (dos, don'ts for fans)?
BDN: First, don’t knock Greensboro until you try it. Sure, the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden has been glitzy and filled with thrillers, but the ACC tournament in Greensboro has its history too. The city and the conference do a terrific job and it’s a true fan-friendly college basketball experience.
On the hardwood, much like the Big East, you can’t take off a single game, or even a single possession. I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but the number of ACC games last season that were determined in the final possession was astonishing. Double-digit victories are a rarity, and hard to come by. Wins, especially on the road, aren’t easy, and there are a lot of teams (Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech) that will try to make you look ugly.
More than anything, I encourage fans to get out and experience the ACC. Certainly the Carrier Dome has its own great atmosphere, but there is plenty more to see – from Duke’s own Cameron Crazies to "Enter Sandman" on a Thursday night in Lane Stadium; the wine and cheese crowd in Chapel Hill to the "Most Exciting 25 seconds in football" in Death Valley. Even as a Duke fan, some of my favorite experiences were not in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but out on the road. Each school has its own unique tradition and atmosphere.
Thoughts on Syracuse overall? (both as an institution and an athletic program)?
BDN: The ACC prides itself on boasting some of the top public and private universities in the country, and Syracuse is a terrific addition. Certainly, the school’s reputation in the fields of communications and architecture speak for themselves, and their success across many sports is well-known. I have no doubt that the school will continue to thrive as a member of the ACC, and look forward to watching the Orange compete with the Blue Devils in multiple arenas.
Thanks again to Patrick for taking the time out to answer these questions!
John Cassillo authors Atlantic Coast Convos, which chronicles ACC (Plus Syracuse & Pittsburgh) football. Check out the blog, and follow him on Twitter: @JohnCassillo