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To Syracuse students, Georgetown is the rival that was, but no longer is

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A sad, but unmistakable truth.

ALONZO MOURNING

Deep down inside, you know the truth. The truth that is blatantly obvious. The truth you have been trying so hard to avoid. The truth that if you admit it, you are afraid some piece of you will die. The truth that Syracuse vs. Georgetown – a rivalry that not only shaped the Big East, but college basketball as a whole – is over.

While Syracuse and Georgetown may attempt to cling to its storied history when the two schools face of this Saturday in the Carrier Dome (and we will certainly do so on the site), the present and the near future, will slowly start to erode that bitter rivalry until it fades away and resembles that of a distant memory of a past life.

It seems painful to admit (trust me, it was even painful to type), but unfortunately this is the undeniable situation we are in.

For years, Syracuse was a fixture in the old Big East Conference, having been one of the conference’s original founding schools in 1979, becoming synonymous with the league itself.

However, this year’s graduating class, the Class of 2017, is the first in Syracuse history to have only attended the university as a member of the ACC. As you know, Orange athletics left the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.

Instead of remembering intense home games inside the Carrier Dome against Georgetown, Villanova and St. John’s, the Class of 2017 will have memories of facing Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Syracuse alumni, and longtime Orange fans, may argue history will keep the Syracuse–Georgetown rivalry alive for years to come. And yet, there is already evidence to the contrary.

Four years ago if you were to ask a Syracuse University student who they consider the school’s biggest rival to be, the answer would have undoubtedly been Georgetown. However, as shocking as this may seem to Orange alumni, that answer is no longer as clear, as Duke has now entered the conversation as Syracuse’s main rival.

duke shirt
Syracuse University Bookstore sells “Beat Duke” shirts.

“Georgetown. Georgetown easily… or Duke,” Joshua Bain, a senior at Syracuse University said when asked who he considered Syracuse’s biggest rival to be. “Honestly, Duke is kind of up there too.”

Despite 91 meetings between the Orange and Hoyas, and only nine between the Orange and Blue Devils, the hatred for Duke among Syracuse students is almost at the same level – if not higher – as the hatred for Georgetown.

“Here, it just seems like it’s Duke, at least in our generation so far,” Steven Simons, a junior at Syracuse University said.

And that is the problem. The current Syracuse student “generation,” as Simons puts it, has attended SU as a member of the ACC, not the Big East. They camped out for days, even weeks, for better seats against Duke, not Georgetown. They attended loud, hostile and packed home games against Duke, not Georgetown. The overtime win and Jim Boeheim’s jacket ejection was against Duke, not Georgetown. The Syracuse University Bookstore sells shirts that read “Beat Duke,” not “Beat Georgetown.” And as a result, students have been groomed to think of Duke as Syracuse’s rival, not Georgetown.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

What is even more disheartening, is the fact while Syracuse fans may consider Duke one of its school’s biggest rivals, it is unlikely Duke students even feel the same way, as the Blue Devils have its own longstanding animosity towards in-state rival North Carolina.

“I don’t think Duke really cares about us,” Stephen Nemy, a junior at Syracuse University said. “Duke has UNC, they have a more historic rivalry with a school in their own state.”

If Syracuse students already consider Duke, a school that “doesn’t really care about us” and may view Syracuse with utter indifference, as one of SU’s biggest rivals, then what does that say about their supposed everlasting rivalry with Georgetown?

The old Big East is dead. Syracuse is in the ACC, and Georgetown is not. These are facts we can not deny and must finally come to terms with (if we haven’t already).

While the two schools may very well continue to renew a home-and-home series after the current four-year series expires 2018-19 season, and will most likely still consider each other “rivals,” it will be impossible to renew the animosity that once existed between these two schools.

The Syracuse–Georgetown rivalry is historic, but it is also history.