According to SI.com's Andy Staples, college sports' recent conference realignment merry-go-round celebrated its third birthday on Monday. It kick started with Colorado accepting an invitation to join the Pac-12, from there the madness eventually led to the Syracuse Orange agreeing to leave the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
For the time being, it seems like conference realignment is all but over. Because of that, and because it is the offseason and there isn't much else to write about, Staples took it upon himself to grade each school's move. He gave Syracuse's shift to the ACC a grade of B. Why?
The Orange could wind up being critical for the ACC for reasons beyond the ones that made them an expansion target. When the conference nabbed Syracuse in 2011, the school offered a name-brand athletic program of interest to a big television market. But the ACC might cash in more depending on just how interested that big market is in Syracuse. If you've visited New York City in the past year, you've probably seen a Syracuse athletics ad atop a taxi. The gist of the ad is that Syracuse is New York's team.
In the Big Ten, they're hoping Rutgers is New York's team. The truth is that New York doesn't have a team. If anything, New York's team is Penn State or Michigan or another of several jumbo-sized state schools that sends lots graduates into jobs in finance and media. But it only matters if cable carriers believe Syracuse is New York's team. If they do, then an ACC network becomes much more feasible -- provided that the ACC and ESPN can extricate themselves from a long sublicense agreement with Raycom that would eat into the inventory too much to make a network possible. If the New York market is on board, the money might be right to make all sides happy. If not, a network becomes a tougher sell.
The other teams which decided to also make the move to the ACC also were given a grade of B expect for, ummmm, Notre Dame, which got a B+.
Meanwhile, the losers in all of this, according to Staples, was West Virginia, which received a C from leaving the Big East for the Big 12 and Rutgers, which barely passed with a D, for its upcoming move from the Big East to the Big Ten.
The best grade went to Texas A&M, which sneaked its way into the SEC. (Anytime you can do that it is a good thing.) TCU earned a B+ from moving from the Mountain West -- bailing on the Big East which turned into the AAC -- to the Big 12. Nebraska earned the same grade by moving from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.
The time to discuss this is now.