Five years ago this week, the college sports world shifted on it's axis. Colorado, of all schools, started the seismic action by leaving the Big-12 for what would become the Pac-12, followed by Nebraska leaving for the Big Ten, Texas toyed with a move West and on and on it went. Things got so weird that, at one point, the Big East had members from California, Idaho and Texas.
When the dust settled, a lot of schools were parts of new conferences, some conferences ceased to exist or changed irreparably and some wondered if we were looking at the beginning of the end of...something.
By all accounts, college realignment was exactly what the sport needed. Too bloated, spread too thin and evolving beyond the outdated structure set in place, everything needed to flash-forward a bit. And so it did. Not everything worked perfectly but it had the desired effect. It'll have to happen again sooner or later.
On their list of conference realignment winners and losers, Fox Sports doesn't include the Syracuse Orange. We're located somewhere in the middle, apparently. Certainly, there are other schools that received greater branding and/or financial windfalls (keep failing upward, Rutgers), but it would be insane to insist that Syracuse didn't come out of the move as a winner as well.
And, for the most part, you'd be hard-pressed to find many Syracuse fans who aren't glad we went.
Enter Berry Tramel, the noted sportswriter for The Oklahoman. He's caught our attention before, but he usually sticks to his local beats (when Russell Westbrook isn't chastising him). Except this week when Berry decided to rank each of the conference-swifters based on who was most affected, from best-to-worst. Weirdly, he has Syracuse pretty far down on the list...
The Orange were rescued from the Big East, too. But their exodus was different. They didn't go in celebration. They went to the ACC in lament. Georgetown-Syracuse basketball? Gone. Syracuse-St. John's? Gone. Syracuse in Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament? Gone. You don't have to ask Syracuse fans whether it was worth it. They and Jim Boeheim will say no.
What. Are. You. Talking. About?
Not only is this incorrect in terms of how the fanbase feels, it's literally-incorrect. Syracuse and Georgetown, who often only played once in a season while in the Big East together, will play each other this season. Syracuse and St. John's have played every year since we left the ACC and, dare I say, the rivalry is stronger now than it was in the last decade in the Big East. Yeah, the days of the BET are over. But the days of the ACCT in Barclays are soon to begin.
As for whether or not we'd have liked to have stayed in the Big East...there was no Big East to stay in. Sure, it existed, but it wasn't the Big East everyone thinks of when they say that. It was a mismanaged conference run by buffoons who didn't have any understanding about the college athletics landscape until it was too late. The ACC didn't destroy the Big East. The Big East destroyed the Big East.
You know who Syracuse fans miss playing? Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova & UConn. You know who Syracuse has scheduled in the three years since we left? Georgetown, St. John's and Villanova. And we might just play UConn this year if things break right in the Battle 4 Atlantis. We honestly don't miss Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul or Cincinnati. I swear. Don't even think about them. And if we do feel homesick, there's the fact that the ACC is half Big East alums anyway (Boston College, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami).
Besides, the Duke rivalry is breaking attendance records while rivalries against UNC, Virginia, NC State and others are blooming. Boston College and Pitt are there to keep us company regionally and we get to be the team located in the state with the city that our conference covets most. It works out pretty well.
And THEN throw in the fact that the ACC is giving us so much more money than we ever got from the Big East, plus more exposure, better recruiting inroads and more opportunities to be a part of a national brand rather than a conference clinging to past, regional success in a limited scope.
Worth it? It was worth it a million times over, Berry. #StickToOklahomaSports