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.

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.

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.

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.