At this time next week, Syracuse will no longer be a member of the Big East -- the conference it started -- and instead will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. We've known about this move since September of 2011, and still, it's weird now that we're just days away from making it official. The TNIAAM staff has already compiled some thoughts saying goodbye to Big East football and basketball, but now it's time to look to the future. What are Syracuse fans supposed to be excited for once we join the ACC next Monday?
We took the liberty of creating a top 10 list of things we're excited for in the ACC. Some suggestions are less serious than others, and I'm sure there's plenty more that can (and will) be added in the future. But for now, consider this your guide for what to look forward to in the ACC. And feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments, too.
1. Football Teams We Actually Care About Facing!
Gone are those tilts between Syracuse and USF or Rutgers, or those in-conference games where you'd watch Cincinnati bludgeon UConn with a spoon. There are teams actually worth caring about in the ACC; some we haven't really faced (Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech), and others we're plenty familiar with (Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech).
Our own Jared Smith shares his take: "On the football side, and though it may not be all the time, it is great to be playing Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College again. Growing up, at least for me, those were SU's main rivals, or teams we looked up to and wanted to beat, and to see them back into the fold is nice."
Sean is equally enthused, but mainly for the Eagles (and why not?): "It might not be sexy but Syracuse needs rivals and BC is the most logical one. It will be hard to get things going in basketball but I hope the football series is as heated and even as it was when it stopped."
2. But I Thought We Hated You Guys...
Jared explains: "Growing up the ACC was the Big East's rival league. I always rooted against the ACC and its teams, now, it is going to be a complete 180. Anyway, at least now it is time to respect the other teams in the league when Syracuse isn't playing them because overall it benefits us. That will be a new, interesting dynamic."
... and it's true. We do all remember hating on the ACC, moaning when they'd get more press time than us on ESPN, or when that league's games would take precedence over the Big East's for College Gameday, etc. My best suggestion: Just dive in. We've tried to help that as much as possible here on the site. But for those still holding out, resistance is futile. We'll be in the ACC on Monday. Just accept it and embrace it as it's our home until Jim Delany decides it isn't anymore.
3. More Exciting Basketball Games
An actual Big East team won an actual game against another D1 university last year by a final score of 37-36. Another one, though they scored points, might as well not exist. These were teams we faced every season, playing "Big East basketball," which progressively looked more and more like a cage match over time.
Jared couldn't be happier to leave that behind: "I am excited to no longer watch its grind-it-out pace of play. Over the last four years or so, Big East basketball became almost unbearable to watch. Of course, we can mostly blame Georgetown (Pitt and Notre Dame too) for this, as they found a nice formula to beat Syracuse; but it has been brutal the last few years. I am looking forward to a tighter called basketball game where players do not need to be killed for a foul to be called (referring back to some of my articles in March this was one of the reasons why I thought SU would be more successful in the NCAA Tournament). No longer will I need to watch conference games played in the 30s and 40s, which happened way too many time last season.
4. New Beer
TNIAAM's resident beer expert Aaron Goldfarb has one thing on his mind: "New local breweries and bars to explore. I almost won't mind if we get bounced early from the ACCT so I'll have plenty of time to check out Asheville and the rest of the North Carolina beer scene."
And he's got a point -- though if possible, I'd love to hold off a few years on that whole "early exit" thing. Asheville is quite officially "Beer City USA," with an incredibly substantial supply of options for you, regardless of taste. North Carolina's a burgeoning beer-producing state too, which means you get to check out plenty of new stuff every time you head down there.
5. The Equalizing Effect
From Matt McClusky: "For years it's been the ACC and then everyone else (the Big East, Syracuse, etc). From here on out, Syracuse should be a top tier team in the top tier conference facing top tier (i.e. Duke, North Carolina) opponents. While I've felt the Big East (due to depth) has been the best league over the last four or five years, the mainstream hasn't agreed. Now, should SU win, there will be no denying which team is the best."
Jared, however, is about doling the Tobacco Road faithful a different type of shock: "C.J. Fair winning the 2013-14 ACC Player of the Year. I am predicting it is going to happen and it will be a nice wake up call to all the ACCers that think only Duke or UNC players can win it"
To piggypack onto all that, the ACC has long been looking for a "third power" to compete with the consistent excellence of Duke and North Carolina. That void is filled here and there, but never really in perpetuity. If only they could find a school with a consistently high level of success for decades on end... OH WAIT, THAT'S US. Syracuse is the equalizer the ACC has been searching for, and I plan to enjoy the Orange crashing the wine and cheese party on a regular basis.
6. But On a More Friendly Level: Duke
Sean: "There is a lost Daily Orange editorial letter from 1999 penned by yours truly chastising Syracuse fans for not being as loud or fanatical during basketball games as the Cameron Crazies. Time to finally find out if that was warranted." Someone find this letter...
Matt's more about historical significance though, and is excited for what annual Duke/Syracuse matchups will bring: "Krzyzewski Boeheim Bloodbaths - No. 1 v. No. 2 in all time wins will do battle for at least a couple of seasons. How freakin' cool is that? 1,877 wins combined? Their teams will play once, possibly twice, maybe even three times a year? Yes, please!" For as much as we dislike Duke (just like every other fan base, really), it's hard to argue with that logic. The two coach's historic win totals will stand high above whatever else could be on ESPN that day. Now people get to hate us just like Duke.
7. Recruiting Boost
Sean's seeing a benefit to the move already: "Between the ACC move and the new staff, we're already seeing the move pay dividends in recruit ratings. A couple more years of that and we might actually make that jump we've been waiting for."
I'm cautiously optimistic that the ACC move has helped, but honestly, until we finish upgrading facilities, it won't matter how good our coaches are at recruiting (and George McDonald has already proven himself to be pretty stellar on the recruiting trail). But if all these things coincide, and the ACC television revenues (over six times those of the American Athletic Conference, by the way) helps pay for the cost, that's fine by me.
8. Clemson Fans Seem Interesting...
Sean: "In what little I've witnessed so far, I'm 95% sure Clemson is actually the Rutgers of the ACC and I think that applies to their fans as well."
I don't know if I'd go as far as Sean on that one -- Clemson actually wins things (OH, HI RUTGERS, DIDN'T SEE YOUR INVISIBLE FAN BASE THERE) -- but they're certainly an intriguing group that's unfortunately made a habit of falling short of expectations of late. That might change this year (they are a preseason top-10 team), though obviously we'd love for it to remain true when they visit the Carrier Dome. Also, can't say I'm not thrilled to take a trip down to Death Valley at some point and experience everything gameday at Clemson has to offer.
Or at least on some nights it will be. As Sean points out: "Between Duke, UNC, Louisville and The ACC School That's Really Good This Year But Will Then Be Replaced By A Different One, the Dome is going to be an even hotter ticket for basketball, if that's possible."
When there were big Big East games, some people cared. If both SU and Georgetown were good, or if a UConn/'Cuse matchup appeared to have a ton at stake, there were a significant number of eyeballs directed toward our corner of Central New York. But what if ESPN just went and decided to hand us all the eyeballs. I mean, Sean touched on the biggest names above, but with those three plus Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, NC State, a sort-of resurgent Miami program, Boston College and more due to come to the Dome pretty regularly, the entire country is going to start figuring out just how intimidating our home court can be.
Matt sums it up pretty well right here: "We've had thirty-plus years of the Big East, but the Atlantic Coast Conference broke away from the Southern Conference 60 years ago! Syracuse is entering the world of David Thompson, Michael Jordan, Dean Smith, Jimmy V, All The Annoying Guys From Duke. It'll be weird for a few years, but in a decade from now, it will be fun to see Syracuse and Syracuse players listed in the record books along with some of basketball's all-time greats."
"But didn't the Big East have plenty of tradition?" See Matt's note above. The Big East's tradition was one scrapped and fought for over and over, but ultimately, its appeal only went so far. There isn't a basketball fan alive who can't "get" what's so special about ACC basketball. And now we're part of that. Feels pretty good, doesn't it?
Of course, while we're acting all respectable-like to our new Carolina-based overlords, there's always this sentiment too, also courtesy of Matt: "I am actually looking forward to seeing Syracuse crashing the Southern party -- for at least one year, then let's move that sucker to NYC."