Syracuse Conference Shuffle: Big East Scenarios for the Orange
Ever since the Huskers decided to leave the Big 12 last year, the college football landscape has the Eastern conferences expanding as far as Texas and the West Coast may include Oklahoma.
The rumors have already begun as ESPN reports that Baylor will back down from blocking the Texas A&M-to-SEC deal if they are guaranteed a BCS conference if the Big 12 collapses.
The truth is that no one knows for certain where everyone will end up, except that the whole way college sports used to be aligned will have completely changed.
A key to remember for Syracuse is that there really are only three sports Syracuse wants to protect: football, men's basketball and lacrosse because these are the "money makers."
Since lacrosse and conferences really do not matter (Cornell, Johns Hopkins and Princeton are nationally-ranked and some of the toughest opponents for 'Cuse) a conference change would only really affect football and basketball.
Over the next few slides, here are some of the scenarios and ways the Syracuse Orange could be affected once the shuffling turns into a free-for-all rave.
West Virginia Plan: Mega Big East
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Don't know this man? Baylor does.
And Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa State and Texas might soon know him as well. Why? West Virginia AD Oliver Luck is one of the few people speaking out about the future of the Big East and he wants a mega conference.
Plausibility: high for revamped Big East, low for mega conference.
The Big East will almost certainly remain intact due to it's BCS status. Now will all Big East teams stay? Probably not, especially with rumors linking the ACC and SEC to a Big East raid.
How this could help: Syracuse's profile as a national school would definitely be on the rise. Every basketball season, imagine playing Kansas, Georgetown, Pitt, Notre Dame, Louisville, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma.
Football-wise, this could spell trouble as Syracuse is struggling in the Big East as of now. However, it would almost certainly guarantee a new TV deal, which equals more exposure.
How this could hurt: Football-wise, travel expenses would increase and stiffer competition would mean fewer wins, but overall, it seems like a positive. Basketball is a different story. Imagine a 20- or 22-team conference.
Yeah, my jaw just dropped and realized this is a horrible idea.
That many teams in one conference in basketball would almost ensure that some Big East teams would have to go to make this work (sorry DePaul), or basketball in 'Cuse country will be pandemonium.
Andy Katz Plan: 'Cuse to ACC
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The rumors quietly started when Syracuse opened the football season against the ACC's Wake Forest.
Wake Forrest play-by-play man Stan Cotten said that Syracuse would be welcomed in the ACC as they are similar to Wake Forest in size and demographics. Now ESPN's Andy Katz seems to think this may be what will happen for the Orange.
It will take a lot to get Syracuse to leave behind rivals UConn and Georgetown (unless one or both came in the deal) and Syracuse's tradition with creating the Big East is so rich, it will take a dire situation to move. But, there is still the apocalyptic nightmare that the Big East folds and Syracuse is left in the dust, as described by Sean Keeley:
"For all we know, the ACC will end up taking South Florida, Pitt and West Virginia end up is some kind of weird new version of the Big 12 and Syracuse will spend its remaining days in the Patriot League."
How this could help: The ACC is a much better fit competitively for both football and basketball for 'Cuse. The ACC would have nationally-ranked and hyped Virginia Tech and Florida State, but Syracuse would not overmatched by Wake Forest, Duke or even North Carolina. Additionally, former Big East rival Boston College would get added back to the schedule.
It's even better for basketball as Syracuse would annually play heavyweights Duke and North Carolina in some of the best coaching matchups in the game. The rest of the conference is also respectable, as Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland are all solid programs capable of upsets.
How this could hurt: Honestly, besides having to look at Maryland's uniforms once a season, I am drawing a blank here...Oh wait, NO MORE BIG EAST TOURNAMENT IN MSG. That tradition and "home court" may be hard to give up unless the Big East really does fold.
My Favorite Plan: 'Cuse to Big 10
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There are some people out there who think the Big Ten is bluffing when they say they are done with expansion.
The reason being is that, although the Big Ten looks like a football powerhouse, basketball-wise they still look weak in the sense that the ACC and Big East loom head and shoulders over them.
Heck, some people may argue that the SEC is a better basketball conference.
The Big Ten is relying on basketball tradition rather than actual results. While Michigan State has carried the torch for the conference, teams like Purdue and Indiana have had to deal with controversy on and off the court. While Syracuse would not bring much to the football table, it would definitely bring something to the basketball prestige of the conference.
Plausibility: 25 percent.
Personally hailing from Big Ten country, I know there was a good deal of fan outcry when Nebraska was added, even though it did boost the conference's reputation and prestige.
If the Big 12 falls and the SEC and Pac-12 all go on a raid, the Big Ten will more than likely join in on sheer merits of "the other big boys are doing it too."
How this could help: Syracuse basketball would come in and be an immediate contender for the title. And as shown in MSG early last year, the Big Ten is not ready for the 2-3 zone.
How this could hurt: This is a step down basketball-wise, I can't harp on that enough. Basketball prestige in the Big East is at an all-time high and, as shown with Marquette (sorry to bring back painful memories), a team that looks average on paper from a great conference will get respect and make a tournament run.
The Big Ten though will more than likely allow for Jim Boeheim and the boys to rack up the wins and get into the tournament even if they have a less-than-stellar season. Personally, I would rather see this than a weakened Big East, but there is far more upside here than clinging to a failing conference.