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Syracuse Basketball: If ACC implodes, let’s see Orange return to Big East

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

The latest round of conference realignment is sending shock waves throughout collegiate athletics, and if the Atlantic Coast Conference at some point ultimately collapses, I’d love to see Syracuse basketball and other SU sports return to the Big East Conference.

Of course, such a return could prove highly unlikely, given that college football and TV money are the drivers of realignment, not basketball or Olympic sports. Plus, the ACC’s grant of rights deal, which runs until 2036, seems to be airtight, so to say that the Orange’s current league is on the verge of implosion is probably a stretch.

Sure, Florida State leaders have of late voiced their displeasure with the current ACC revenue-distribution model. If another ACC powerhouse, such as Clemson, follows suit, things could get interesting.

But as far as I can tell, this would be a legal mess and cost any school that tries to leave the ACC a boatload of cash. So Syracuse basketball returning to the Big East likely wouldn’t be happening any time soon.

I want Syracuse basketball back in the Big East Conference.

Things are pretty darn crazy these days. Oklahoma and Texas are headed to the Southeastern Conference from the Big 12 Conference.

The Big 12 has added BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. Then, in recent days, Pac-12 Conference members Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah decided to bolt for the Big 12.

The Big Ten Conference will welcome Southern California and UCLA from the Pac-12, along with Oregon and Washington.

That leaves the Pac-12 with only California, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State. Might the ACC look to add one or more of those schools to its ranks? On the ESPN Web site on Monday, I saw a video of Pete Thamel discussing that Stanford heading to the ACC could be a possibility.

"Thamel also tweeted on Monday afternoon: “In the next 24 hours, there’s two calls for the ACC to vet and have early exploratory discussions on the potential addition of Cal and Stanford. One is for ACC athletic directors and the other for the league’s presidents and chancellors.”"

Certainly, were the ACC to pluck any of those four Pac-12 teams, it would give the Orange’s current league representation on the west coast. But do Cal, Oregon State, Stanford and/or Washington State move the needle much for the ACC, particularly as it tries to fend off the Big 12 as the No. 3 power conference behind the Big Ten and the SEC? My sense is, no, they do not.

To reiterate, I’m not suggesting the ACC is about to collapse. Realignment is fluid. Who the heck knows where everything will be a year, two years, five years, etc., from now?

Again, though, if Florida State or another current ACC member takes the ACC to court and is able to bolt the conference (while I assume paying a hefty fee), will that cause a domino effect where others depart for greener pastures, too? That could prove a tough predicament for Syracuse basketball and SU sports in general.

I’ve read a ton of articles in recent days about this whole realignment issue and its impact on the ACC. Naturally, a lot of this stuff is pure speculation.

However, if the ACC were to eventually implode, what would SU do? Would the Big Ten, the Big 12 or the SEC consider inviting the Orange in? I can’t see the SEC doing so, nor the Big 12. Maybe the Big Ten is a potential option, as Syracuse University does have a strong basketball brand and is appealing given its proximity to the New York City media market.

Then again, by and large, Syracuse football hasn’t been all that good in recent years. So if the ACC goes down, and one of the remaining power conferences isn’t a viable option for SU, why not go back to the Big East for all sports except football, where I guess the Orange would have to be an independent?

That’s not a highly attractive alternative, in my opinion, but if SU doesn’t have a chair at the table in the Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC when the music stops playing, I personally think it’s better for Syracuse basketball and other SU sports to be in the Big East, and Orange football to be an independent, as opposed to all ‘Cuse sports, including football, being in a mid-tier conference.

Hall of Famer Rick Pitino, a former Syracuse basketball assistant coach many years ago who is currently the head coach of St. John’s, shared a tweet in recent days that I really liked. He wrote, “Doesn’t it make more sense for football to break away to separate leagues and allow the rest of the sports to compete regionally? Rivalries remain n minor sports don’t spend half their day looking for bad food at airport restaurants!!!”

I attended Syracuse University from 1996 to 2000, so I’m kinda old school when it comes to Syracuse basketball. I want the Orange to play St. John’s every year, along with 2023 national champion UConn, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence, of course Georgetown and others.

Plus, I really want Syracuse basketball to have the opportunity to avenge its sole loss to Big East member Butler in the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. That setback pissed me off just about as much as any other Orange defeat in program history (well, besides 1987 versus Indiana).

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