A hundred years ago the release of Syracuse's conference schedule was exciting only because it meant the season was that much closer to becoming reality. There just wasn't any juice about it, what with a standard schedule of home and road games. We knew the opponents, we just didn't know the dates.
Obviously, it hasn't been a century, but it does feel like a lifetime ago when you could count on Georgetown coming to the Dome with Syracuse returning the favor to the Hoyas in D.C. at some point in the same season -- the same routine with St. John's and Villanova, etc. Expansion, though, changed all that we knew and could count on. Then realignment went and changed all the changes and now we have a Big Ten with, I don't know, 20 teams and northeastern schools like Syracuse in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
What we know becomes what used to know quick around these parts.
Well, I guess it's not all different. Syracuse does know it will play Pittsburgh, those good ole Panthers, two times every season. That's due to the ACC's rules to try and make everyone feel comfortable with the new surroundings of college athletics. The Dukes of the world still get two shots at the North Carolinas every season, everyone placated as best as possible.
Which is bogus. There should be an embracing of what is new. And nothing says "New ACC" like giving us Syracuse and Duke two times, home and road, every damn season from now until it somehow doesn't mean anything. Because, right now, Orange and Blue Devils means Boeheim and Krzyzewski, top-tier teams and some damn fine television. So much so I consider any game between the two a Bunker Game.
So I'm happy the ACC is giving us one more year, for now, of Syracuse playing Duke two times. But in all reality, it's the least the conference could give us.
I know there will never be another Georgetown, and not even another Connecticut, for SU, but the Blue Devils should be a two-times affair even more so. Duke isn't that rival like the former Big East teams, but guess what? The Big East isn't coming back! And, hell, Boeheim and Krzyzewski are...gasp...friends. Plus, while the Dome may close up in a few years, what are the chances Coach K says some witty snide remark about it after the last game in the big bubble? I'd say zero.
Similarly, Syracuse will never become anything close to North Carolina for Duke and its fans. Rightfully so, mind you, because the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have more history together than Syracuse and anyone.
But who cares? The reason Syracuse and Duke is must see isn't because of "inside stories" or "you-had-to-be-there" games from the 70s and early 80s. No, Duke and Syracuse is just great television sprouting organically from the genetically-modified world of college sports. Forty-five minutes last season that left you wanting more and more and more. On the court the two games may have been the best of the season, off the court we saw Boeheim show emotions that we've never really seen in his 38 years stomping sidelines (and don't forget Coach K's reaction after the win in Durham). You don't always need a protagonist and antagonist for a good story.
The problem here, of course, is the ACC isn't going to give us enough chapters in the future. In 2016 the two teams will play just once, adhering to those bogus "rules" designed to incorporate everyone into everyone else's schedule. Blah blah blah. It's really a waste of a perfectly awesome series by not giving us those two playing each other twice every single damn season.
"We have these rules in place and we don't want to be too controlling and we don't..."
So make Syracuse and Duke another one of those round-robin games in a conference too bloated to make common sense. Fine. It's not like there aren't a ton of other can't-miss series in the ACC, right? Wait, there aren't a ton of those actually. Seriously, are there even three can't-miss series?
Instead of giving us what we want, let's have Boeheim and Krzyzewski finish out their Hall of Fame careers with as few games against each other as possible. Besides, there are too many teams -- Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt and the older ACC members -- to try and schedule for everyone to be happy here.
Which I guess is where that excitement comes in the conference schedule being released. Every other spring or summer we can now wonder, Did the ACC get it right, are Syracuse and Duke doing a home-and-home again? It's evidently something we'll question for decades to come. Until, I suppose, everything new becomes everything we knew, again.
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