July 1, 2013. The day everything changes. The day Syracuse University athletics will officially become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. A new beginning.
Actually, Monday will probably come and go without anyone really noticing anything different. In fact, the move to the ACC may not register until October or even November. Not until SU lines up with Clemson at the Dome or kicks off against the Wolf Pack in North Carolina.
And even then, Syracuse being in the ACC may not feel real until Jim Boeheim's boys take a road trip down Tobacco Road. That's because the football side of the new conference has a very familiar feel. Boston College, Pittsburgh, Miami, and Virginia Tech, all Big East foes from way back (well, kind of way back) are waiting for Syracuse.
All of those programs jumping off the Big East boat about a decade ago. Of course, as the guys from the Syracuse Post Standard brilliantly pointed out, Syracuse was set to join them in the ACC until politics got involved. That left the Orange program to deal with an eroding Big East. And just the same, directly after the Big East's big changes, Syracuse football started eroding too.
Which brings me back to today. The cusp of a different day with new and old faces. And the interesting case of Virginia Tech. A team that was never considered Syracuse's real rival, but a team that may have really been Syracuse's real rival.
Remember 1998? Donovan McNabb and Stephen Brominski sure do!
Remember 2000? Dwight Freeney and Michael Vick sure do!
Honestly, think of some of your favorite Big East football memories. I'm betting a few of the games involve Virginia Tech. The '98 game practically makes the legend of McNabb for most fans. You know what play I always come back to in my mind when I'm thinking of McNabb and the fun times of the late 90s? An unscripted quarterback scramble in 1995 against Virginia Tech. McNabb ran east, west, north, and south, multiple times, all in one play. I lost my breathe jumping up and down and screaming. Sure, McNabb's amazing run for a touchdown didn't count (bogus illegal blocking penalty), but my God, it was fun to watch.
So is Virginia Tech, the old/new conference foe, Syracuse's destined rival?
Don't forget, the reason Syracuse isn't already in the comfy confines of the ACC is because of Virginia Tech. John Swofford, ACC head honcho, wanted Miami and Syracuse. B.C. was on the outside and Virginia Tech wasn't even in the discussion. That is until the Virginia government pipped up and conference-blocked SU, leaving the Orange program to try and help keep a sinking conference afloat.
Did Virginia Tech technically keep SU out? Not technically, idiot lawmakers were the ones who changed everything. But should that matter when we're talking about adding fuel to the rivalry? No.
I've already penned how the ACC probably won't lead to Syracuse's long lost true rival. But as we get closer to the deadline, I'm realizing that will eventually be wrong. Assuming the ACC stays intact, eventually, a Pitt or B.C. or maybe someone new will strike hatred in the hearts of all who wear Orange. I know a lot of people think the Eagles could be that program. And that makes sense.
But given the history on and off the field -- yes, I'm including Virginia's government here -- maybe the Hokies will great Syracuse in the ACC with a good old steel chair to the back. Now I know the two teams aren't even going to play each other every year -- as is the case in 2013 -- but maybe after a few more nail-bitters, that will change. Maybe after the ACC gets a taste of an old Big East favorite, the conference will see fit to have Virginia Tech battle Syracuse annually.
We can dream about last second touchdown passes, and big time upsets, and triple overtimes, can't we?
Hell, maybe the ACC, a place Syracuse moves into in just a few days, will eventually revive what everyone may have forgotten about -- a burgeoning real rivalry for Syracuse football.