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, and we've got a laundry list of things to look forward to in the ACC as well. But should Syracuse fans be dreading about the impending move?
Today, we take a little trip to negative town (or maybe just "slightly pessimistic town"), cautioning SU fans on a few less-than-stellar aspects of the move. 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 you should be dreading about Syracuse's move to the ACC. And feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments, too.
1. "Meet Your New Boss, Same as the Old Boss"
Hooray, we're finally free of our biased, Providence-based overlords who were too focused on basketball to save Big East football from melting into a puddle! What exciting things await us with the ACC's enterprising leadership?!
/Reads everybody's resumes
//Sees everyone went to at least one of North Carolina, Duke or Virginia
... Yup, the ACC is also a shadowy cabal just like the Big East was, except their leadership committee is usual controlled by just three schools (see the names above). Now of course, that's sort of changed of late. Commissioner Swofford, in particular, has shown himself willing to "reach across the aisle" to Florida State, Clemson and the other football-minded schools to prioritize their interests -- most notably by inviting Louisville over UConn (nevermind that the Cards just won the NCAA Tournament). But fair warning: Expect some bias that will not be in Syracuse's favor.
2. Will Football Slip Into Irrelevance?
We'd all like to fight it, but this is a legitimate concern at the moment. As Sean points out: "Bigger stage, better opponents, tougher schedules. Scott Shafer's tenure as head of SU football might be just as important as Doug Marrone's because it will set the tone for the next decade, and possibly longer, for the Orange as they attempt to keep climbing."
Jared Smith's also worried about where we stand with recruiting, and the awful reality we may face come National Signing Day in February: "The shift to the ACC is supposed to help recruiting, which means we're suppose to get better rated players. Well, when we go after these better rated players they will be comparing SU's facilities with other ACC school's facilities, and lets be honest they probably will not stack up. In the past, the Orange were trying to out recruit West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and USF. Now, Syracuse will try to out recruit Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State and North Carolina. Those programs have been upping their games for years. My fear is we will be farther behind the eight-ball than expected."
The answers here: Keep winning games, and let's spend money on facilities. Only way to consistently win games in the Northeast. But it won't be easy, and fans need to be prepared for that.
The Big East Tournament was our show, even 'till the very end. Arguably no school benefited from that showcase in New York City more than Syracuse, who used it to grow from a regional to a national power in basketball. Now? We're walking into someone else's party.
Sean: "While it will probably ended up in New York City every once in a while, it will almost certainly be in North Carolina or someplace like that more often. Losing the BET Experience is going to be one of the bigger bummers of the move."
Matt McClusky: "You know, I'm excited for year one in Greensboro. A little excited, anyway. I mean, I'll still punch your cat when it gets closer to March and Syracuse isn't in the Garden. But still, I'm looking forward to seeing how this whole ACC tournament thing works. So why am I also dreading it? Worst-case scenarios: like Syracuse losing to Wake Forest of Virginia Tech in the first round. Oh think of the week's worth of storylines that would produce as we all wait for the NCAA tourney to start." (/vomits)
4. Remember All Those Times We Took Over Opposing Arenas?
Jared's got a point here: "The thing about moving into the ACC is Syracuse fans getting tickets to games and traveling to new places, which may not have as many open seats. Orange fans are used to snagging tickets for games in Connecticut, New York or Philadelphia, but that may not be as easy in the ACC, especially basketball, where fans actually show up regardless how bad their teams are. Now, with that said, SU fans are pretty good at figuring out how to do these things but for a few years it might be tough in a new setting."
By all accounts, NC State fans were none too thrilled with how SU took over their home arena a couple years ago, so I'm not so sure they'll allow us to do it again. While we had an easy enough time taking over home courts at UConn, Villanova, St. John's and Georgetown, that will not be the case for the ACC's top flight. Cameron Indoor is a very small arena, and folks always show up. Same goes for the Dean Dome. Against elite schools, we'll have to fight our way in and as Jared mentions, it will be a struggle.
5. Assessing the Opposition
This is sure to cause some drama in the comments (and maybe elsewhere, too), but we're not having the best time with opposing fans...
Sean: "Duke basketball fans & Clemson football fans: I suppose that's an even trade for UConn & Georgetown fans..."
Matt: "Cameron Crazies: I hate it when a team good enough to win a game starts falling apart, the crowd starts going crazy, the announcers start yelling, and said team starts choking away a victory. It's like clockwork isn't it? And without fail, this inevitable run comes at the worst possible time. Now who doesn't see that happening to Syracuse at Duke while Dick Vitale is screaming away about how great the Blue Devils fans are to the game of basketball?"
Our view of Clemson appears clouded by this intrepid fan writing into Syracuse.com a couple weeks ago, but I'm trying not to project that onto everyone. I've met plenty of welcoming Clemson fans, and I fully believe they'll provide the Southern hospitality they're advertising when we visit in 2014. However, Seminoles fans are a different story, as everyone in the ACC thinks they need to calm down (sorry, guys!). I leave you with this.
6. Lack of Rivalries
Courtesy of Sean: "I'm legitimately concerned about our ability to create real rivalries outside of the obvious ones (BC, Pitt, L'ville). Because of the wonky football scheduling, we won't even play half of our new conference mates that often. And it's going to take a while to build up some hate for Georgia Tech and Florida State basketball."
This becomes a far greater concern because...
7. No More Georgetown
Nope, they're not on the schedule for 2013-14, and there's a pretty good chance we won't be seeing them for some time. Seems like Jim Boeheim's got us scheduling tougher, plus the ACC slate may be a bit more challenging than the Big East's (debatable), meaning not a ton of room left, especially when we've already got Villanova and St. John's locked in. But without our
friends a-holes from D.C., this season will seem a bit empty regardless of what happens.
8. Please Don't End Up on Geographic Outlier Island
Matt's begging us not to become Boston College: "Syracuse isn't going to fall that far, obviously, its programs are much more established and prepared for the future. But the Eagles are a cautionary tale of what can happen to programs that jump conferences. Sure the football team found some success early, but in the end, geographically and logically it just didn't make sense for B.C. to be in the ACC, and I think everyone is finding that out the hard way. Again, SU won't have anywhere near those problems, but I do wonder if the football program can take another major hit and come back...again."
Personally, I don't buy the entirety of that narrative -- I think Boston College has suffered from a perfect storm of bad coaching and talent development in its two top revenue sports at the same time, but I'd hate for both schools to get caught up in the rising tide of "everyone's moving down South" and "no one cares about Northeast football." Boston College is likely to get back to respectability, but if they can't, it's likely we'll be right there with them. Despite the bridge Pitt (and UVa and Virginia Tech) form between BC, SU and the rest of the league, we're still largely an outlier and need to be wary of the repercussions of that.
9. What if Lacrosse's Not Up to Snuff?
Matt's a bit concerned in the short-term: "I'm not worried that Syracuse lacrosse, the program with 11 titles that is fresh off another Final Four appearance, will fall apart in the ACC. But I am a little concerned that a team still in transition may take a step back when taking on Maryland, Duke, and North Carolina this season. Not to mention Notre Dame. Again, SU will ultimately be fine. I mean, it's not like Syracuse isn't used to tough schedules. But still, the ACC is going to be TOUGH."
And I tend to agree a bit. I'm also a bit wary in the long-term, though. What if Rutgers wakes up and starts moving in on New York recruits? What if recruits aren't sold on trips down south when most of the season was spent up north before? We're the country's most successful program since the NCAA started handing out trophies, so I'm not going to get worked up about this. However, there may be a bit of a learning curve.
10. No beer sold at (nearly all) road games
Lesson: Tailgate harder. Unless you see Cimarron. Then stop drinking immediately. He steals souls.