NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: The Cincinnati Bearcats handle the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the finals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
If you have the ability to read -- and given the fact that you've pointed your Internet computing machine to this Internet computing website, there's a decent chance that circumstance exists -- then you already know the news: Syracuse is going to give the Big East a sack of money with a big ol' dollar sign on it and they'll no longer be super best friends starting on July 1, 2013. It's kind of like friendship alimony/extortion only they weren't Facebook pals/had a gun stuck to one's temple.
The timing of this news is a little odd. Friday night I was at my therapist -- Daly's Pub in delightful Astoria -- talking to a friend about the upcoming basketball season and the impending move to the ACC. Some interesting things popped out of that conversation:
- We both built our late-autumns through early springs around the Big East basketball schedule for the better part of 20 or so years. Games against Providence -- yes, friggin' Providence -- were important enough to cancel social occasions; Seton Hall -- the Seton Hall that has basically been a parasite on the league for most of the years following the program's silly 1989 season -- was something to look forward to and meticulously fret over; Georgetown was the reason that you'd look forward to the balls rolling out in October; ad infinitum (drunkenly). The league was an obsession for the majority of our existence -- even the things that people throw in the trash and forget about -- and it's disappointing that it's all going away.
- We both didn't give a damn about Duke or North Carolina or any of Syracuse's future play date friends. When you build 30 years of disdain and respect for what is and was the Big East's membership, hating the hell out of the Terrapins or Blue Devils is just awkward and forced and somehow artificial. We'll care about these teams in so much that we both want to see Syracuse clobber them all about the head with a tube sock filled with a billiard ball, but that's just a cold desire for Orange success. There's nothing personal about the ACC; there isn't 30 years of sweat and anger and respect and building the best damn basketball league ever assembled to make you remove yourself from society for three months and watch, like, DePaul and Rutgers slap each other because it's Big East basketball and you need it in your system or you get the shakes.
With the news dropping this morning about Syracuse and the league coming to an agreement, I almost added "Power of Precognition" to my LinkedIn account. Before that happened, though, I started thinking again about my malaise around the Orange moving to the ACC.
Save for the ability of Syracuse to schedule an additional nonconference men's lacrosse game due to its league slate being reduced when in the ACC (Hello, Brown or Massachusetts!), I'm (obviously) not particularly excited about the school's move to the conference. I understand why Syracuse needed to make the move, and I don't disagree with the decision to follow through on the decision. It's just that . . . I don't care about the ACC. I see all the FanPosts and FanShots about television markets and new television deals and all this stuff that has nothing to do with loving college sports. Nothing. (It's not necessarily our fault that those conversations are happening as people that receive paychecks because of college sports lost their way as well, creating this mess out of what should have never been a mess.) If I cared about television markets and television deals and third-tier whatever I'd subscribe to business periodicals and journals. But I don't care about those things and I don't subscribe to that boring reading material.
Plus, it's not like I'm getting any of that television money, so I may as well receive compensation through something less tangible: I'm a college sports fan. I care about college sports and those things that are attendant in that.
That's why I'm going to miss playing St. John's each season more than I'm going to be excited about playing North Carolina -- because college sports is about tradition (and because it's about tradition North Carolina shouldn't give a damn about Syracuse). I'm not saying that you can't hate the piss out of North Carolina from the word "Go!" but that's a professional sports mentality: Hate the guys that are the best despite having zero particular history that would generate this kind of disdain. That's boring to me -- really boring, actually -- and it's part of the reason that I can't comprehend why people hate Pittsburgh and Louisville and whoever more than Georgetown.
The move to the ACC is a good thing in that Syracuse probably won't fall apart and become diseased, requiring a leg amputation or something. However, it's terrible for us that love college sports, that had huge pieces of our life impacted -- sometimes far too much -- by the Big East. This has been the league that I cared about more than any other for about two-thirds of my life and it's all going away after this season, being replaced with something that wasn't necessarily desired but rather necessitated. That sucks. It sucks really bad.
I'm sure everything will be fine down the road -- I see you, Boston College! -- but for the next decade or so I'm going to see Syracuse making business trips as mercenaries rather than building upon the best thing that ever happened to college hoops. I hope everyone enjoys the hell out of this year because it's not going to be like this for a long time to come.