It’s time for people upset with Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s decision to leave the Big East for the ACC to face facts. The Big East is not the conference it used to be.
Sure, recent additions of Temple, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Boise State (football only) and San Diego State (football only) will beef up the league’s football, but basketball has clearly taken a back seat. So it’s understandable if a few of the traditional basketball powers like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia (Big 12) decided to bolt while there were still open spots in other conferences.
The Big East and Syracuse announced on Monday that both organizations reached an agreement to allow the Orange to depart the league on July 1, 2013 rather than 2014. Syracuse will play the Big East a $7.5 million exit fee, $2.5 million more than the league mandated $5 million departure fee.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim understands the ramifications, but is looking forward to a future playing most of its conference road games south of Washington D.C.
"If we were leaving the old Big East, I'd probably be upset," Boeheim said during an interview on Syracuse radio station WSKO last September. "But what we have now in the Big East isn't what we used to have. It's completely different. Am I still sad about it? Yeah. I mean, 30 some years in a league, you bet."
The sadness felt by Boeheim will surely disappear once the Orange begins playing its ACC schedule. Looking at it from Syracuse’s standpoint, hosting the Duke and North Carolina once a year in front of 30,000-plus at the Carrier Dome is probably worth chucking its rivalries with Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, etc…
That might not be a pleasant thought for the Big East, but in these days of conference realignments and big-time TV deals, it’s every school for itself.
Remaining Big East schools and fans shouldn't worry, though. The conference survived a mass exodus once before when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the ACC.
With several good to elite programs -Georgetown, UConn, Marquette, Notre Dame, Villanova, Louisville- a resurgent St. John's squad and Temple in the mix, Big East basketball should still thrive.