How does Syracuse stack up against the ACC?

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Syracuse.  We look forward to bringing ACC games to the Big Apple” – Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor

Now that the news is official and Syracuse is joining the ACC, it is time to breakdown how the Orange stacks up to the competition in the ACC.

Football
The football team peaked in the late 1980s playing for the national title in the Sugar Bowl. Syracuse had a short renaissance in the late 1990s thanks to Donovan McNabb and down years by Miami and Virginia Tech.  Since then the program has been inept due to a much tougher recruiting environment on the east coast.  Once Syracuse had to compete for recruits with Penn State and Boston College, but in the 2000s Connecticut, Rutgers and Maryland all started beating Syracuse in getting recruits for football.  Moving to the ACC will only help Syracuse with recruiting.

The competition is going to get more intense as Syracuse has never fared well against ACC teams, though they beat Wake Forrest week 1 this year.  Syracuse football is on the rebound and the timing of the move to the ACC could help propel it even higher, though just as easily the program can become bottom feeders if recruiting does not step up.

Basketball
The basketball team has never been stronger. Recruits regularly in the top 100 choose Syracuse, and the program has been averaging 25 wins and an NCAA tournament appearance for the last decade.  Losing the rivalries in the Big East was an inevitability as the non-football schools were most likely to get the boot once the conference expanded.  So those crying over the lost opportunities of playing Georgetown and Villanova, those games were going to be lost anyway.

This move makes sense for the basketball program.  The ACC gets two of the most consistent programs in the country (Pitt is also joining the ACC).  Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is excited:

“It’s actually pretty exciting,” Krzyzewski said. “I think it’s great for our conference football-wise, even better basketball-wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball.

 

Syracuse basketball not only will be fine, I actually think this move makes them stronger. Recruiting becomes easier as the teams are now geographically closer, and the chance for new rivalries with North Carolina, Duke and Maryland.

Lacrosse
Syracuse joining the ACC is going to be rough on the lacrosse team. Recruiting will not be impacted because of the history of the program, but the games are certainly going to get harder. The Big East was a weak lacrosse conference, but the 4 teams in the ACC are all strong and usually but 3 or 4 teams in the NCAA tournament each year.

Non-Revenue Sports
The rest of the teams at Syracuse come out winners here too. The competition is closer by thus reducing travel and costs. The ACC takes non-revenue sports more seriously than the Big East, and even have a regional tv contract with Fox Sports TV for soccer, field hockey and women’s basketball. Non of that exists for the Big East.

While I will miss the great memories of the Big East basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden, this move ensures Syracuse’s athletics viability for years to come. The chancellor and athletic director deserve credit for taking a preemptive strike so the Orange were not left without a seat at the table for major conference athletics. I can’t wait to watch the Orange at Byrd Stadium and Comcast Center.

8 years late…Syracuse is going to the ACC

UPDATE (11:56 PM EASTERN) – ACC Conference call at 930AM to announce SU and Pitt being admitted to the league.

Finally, the charade at Syracuse University is over, the Orange are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference.  What should have happened in 2003 when the ACC was looking to expand, Syracuse got cold feet at the last second, and Governor Mark Warner of Virginia made the ACC and Virginia Tech and offer it could not refuse (a lawsuit).

Now 8 years later, Syracuse went on the offensive knowing they needed a seat in a stable athletic conference before all the seats were taken.  The future of college football is 4 or 5 conferences with 16 teams, and with the remaining 9 Big 12 teams plus the 11 teams in the Big East, it was time to pull the rip cord before it was too late.

Ironically it was the Big East and the Big 12 Conferences who blocked the idea of a college playoff a few years ago, now, essentially, these conferences will cease to exist.  While it is sad for the basketball fan in me to see the conference go away, the football conference has been embarrassing since Miami and VaTech left in 2004.

Reports are saying that Syracuse and Pitt, who also formally applied to the ACC, will be formally accepted as early as tomorrow.  Talking to two people in the know at the ACC, admission is really just a formality, and it appears others are hearing the same thing.

While some alumni and fans may hate this decision, and we all know that money is driving it, Syracuse is doing the right thing by taking control of their future.

No Hard Knocks for 2011…Why HBO?!?!

I am very happy that the NFL is back from its extended lockout, but one of the casualties of the lockout is HBO’s Hard Knocks program according to Sports Illustrated Peter King.

 

No “Hard Knocks” this year. I repeat: No “Hard Knocks.”less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

 

The show gives all fans a behind the scenes looks at the lives of an NFL team during training camp.  The show appealed to hard core fans like myself, but even to casual fans like my wife who tuned in to watch the personalities.

Over the years Hard Knocks gave us Shannon Sharpe, Jerry Jones and most recently Rex Ryan.  I hope the show comes back in 2012.

Why Can’t Lance Armstrong Just Admit He Used Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Watching 60 Minutes this weekend, I caught an interview with two former teammates of Lance Armstrong admit to using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and that they witnessed Lance Armstrong also using them as well.  Not surprising, these teammates testified to these facts recently.

Lance has categorically denied ever using PEDs and every test he has ever taken has been clean.  That has not stopped allegations from repeatedly popping up, 8 different times, since 2004.  Teammates, friends and competitors have all eluded to or admitted to knowing Lance used PEDs.  So why can’t Lance just come clean?

My theory on why he keeps denying the truth is that it would implicate much more than himself.  It is clear that the international cycling community may be just as complicit in ignoring and covering up the test results as anyone.  Interest in cycling was waning in the late 90s, but in 1999 Lance Armstrong started to change that when he won his first Tour de France and his story about his battle with cancer came out.  For most Americans, the only cycling race they know is the Tour de France, so it was a great story, and as he realed off 7 consecutive Tour de France titles.

It was in cycling’s best interest to keep Lance in the lead.  I believe that as fellow competitors tried to keep up with Lance they learned the only way was with PEDs and that because international cycling officials allowed Lance to do it, that they would be allowed too.  I find it nearly impossible to believe everyone was cheating around Lance, they could not keep up with him, and he remained clean.  What biological condition or bionic condition gives him that ability?

Armstrong has done so much for the sport of cycling, for cancer awareness through his Livestrong foundation, but his greatest contribution maybe his ability to lie to himself that he used PEDs.  He has done a better job avoiding getting caught than anyone in modern sports history.

Perhaps it is time for the all drug cycling competitons like SNL suggested a few years ago.

The Plight of University of Maryland Basketball

Gary Williams sudden retirement last week from a basketball program he lead for over 20 years put the spotlight back on those who question how good a coach he really was.  I was never a Gary Williams fan, and while he was a winner, he also was tough to work with and work for.  Gary’s dealings with former Athletic Director Debbie Yow are a perfect example where he publicly bashed her numerous times especially in 2008 when he did not get his way recruiting two individuals.

Many will point to his 2001-02 NCAA Basketball title and his other Final Four appearance, but it came at a time when top programs like Duke, Kansas, and UCLA were not getting top talent because high school kids were jumping straight to the NBA.  Maryland beat a weak Indiana team that had one marginal pro in the championship game.

What saddens me the most as a University of Maryland fan is that Gary never developed a strong coaching tree where he had a natural successor.  Rick Barnes, who was an assistant when Gary was at Ohio State, is by far the most notable.  The rest of the list is weak at best, especially for a coach that was at the same place for 22 years.  Compare that to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse or Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, both programs Maryland fans like to compare themselves to, where multiple natural successors are in place already, with former assistants lined up around the block if any of the successors don’t work out.  When Gary left, not one mention was made of trying to bring back someone who played at Maryland or coached at Maryland to take over.

Now we have a new coach in town in Mark Turgeon, who ironically enough comes from the Dean Smith coaching tree at UNC via Larry Brown at Kansas.  So while Gary’s legacy is a winning program and a 2002 NCAA Title, Gary also managed an 8% graduation rate and never developed a successor to the program.  Maryland is not a top 10 coaching job and it never was, and that we can thank Gary for.

The Real Season Starts Tonight

82 near meaningless games later, the moment all Caps fans have been waiting for is hear.  The playoffs start tonight, and taking revenge on the rest of league for our lackluster appearances in the past 3 years is going to be sweet.  To kick off the start of the post season, here are a few of my favorite moments from the Ovechkin era.  If this does not pump you up for tonight, you are definitely not rocking the red.

Where it all began, April 5th 2008, the Caps clinch the division and last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season

And who can forget NY Rangers head coach, John Tortorella, getting suspended for Game 6, in the 2009 playoffs.

So tonight when the Caps take the ice against the Rangers, the lasting memories of Game 7 in 2009 should be fresh in all our minds.

Let’s Go Caps!!!