Face it, folks. Until the Big Ten (11) finally choose a twelfth team, this discussion will just keep rearing it's ugly head. So, it's probably best that we just address the issue head on and hope that some schlub from the Big 12 or WAC ends up becoming No. 12 and not a Big East team. Especially Syracuse.
That said, let me give you five reasons not to be overly concerned with the Big Ten overtures despite the fact that SU continues to show up on all of the
1. We're Not As Attractive As We Like To Think (In This Case)
Look at the list of teams that are generally accepted as the "favorites" for Big Ten addition. Rutgers, Louisville, Pitt, Missouri, Cincinnati & Syracuse. In the same order, here's the market size that correlates to each school. #1 (NY), #49 (L'ville), #23 (Pittsburgh), #21 (St. Louis), #33 (Cincinnati) and #83 (Syracuse). If a major goal of the expansion is to increase the reach of the Big Ten Conference into large markets which in turn increases the reach of their TV network, Syracuse doesn't do a whole lot for them. Sorry, DOC Gross, Rutgers provides better in-roads to NYC while Mizzou and Cincy provide better access to major Midwestern cities.
2. Tradition Matters For The Big Ten
Not that Syracuse doesn't have tradition. We're up to your eyeballs in tradition. Just not the kind their looking for. Yeah we have a classic rivalry with Penn State, but that's about it in terms of historical perspective and Big Ten teams. Teams like Cincy and Pitt have more of a geographical resonance when it comes to budding and building rivalries with the programs already there. Missouri already has the hate thing down pat with Illinois. Only Rutgers and Louisville look worse than SU in this department.
3. Forget Football For A Second And Tell Me If This Makes Sense
Because we all know this is 100% about football, right? It doesn't take into account any other sport. If it does, that's a whole new ballgame, or ballgames. Syracuse basketball is a Big East institution, arguably the premiere program over the course of the conference's history. Syracuse lacrosse is the gem of the newly-formed Big East lacrosse conference. Many other SU programs are key components of the conference, such as field hockey, women's lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, etc. This move would be a sacrifice for every other sport at the expense of football. Are we willing to redefine every other sport, major or otherwise, in order to "help" the football program?
4. Go West, Young Men
Check out the logistical nightmare created if the Big Ten expands East. If a Syracuse is brought in and the conference is split into two divisions, one traditional Big Ten rivalry will be ripped apart. Sure they could probably find a way to keep things going between the two teams but this falls into the "sacrificing tradition" pool, something the Big Ten seems extremely unwilling to do. This is also where Missouri comes in and makes tons more sense...they fit in perfectly with the Western Division, which contains Illinois and needs a sixth team.
5. Our Hypocritic Oath
When Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East to join the ACC, Syracuse and the other BE schools hounded them with accusations of desertion and greed (nevermind the fact that SU was almost among them). The identity of the conference as a whole became about the programs left banding together to rebuild the conference from the ground up. The process is still ongoing but the Big East, especially in football, has begun to feel like a close-knit community again. If one of the partners leaves now, it's a betrayal even grander than anything BC, Miami or VT did. It undoes everything accomplished in the last six years and negates anything that was said about Big East pride or fellowship. I don't know just how much that counts for when million-dollar TV contracts are on the line, but it's something.
Now, on paper, if the Big Ten comes calling I think DOC Gross probably already has the U-Haul loaded up. But that doesn't take into account the boosters, alums and other vested parties who would stand up and voice their displeasure with the Orange leaving the Big East. Also not taking into account the opinions of Jim Boeheim and his ilk, which hold a lot of weight around these parts. No way Jim wants this move, he's invested too much of his career and life into Big East basketball. I could see this issue tearing the fabric of the SU sports community and I'm not sure the admins could overpower the alum & fan dissent.