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ACC, Big East realignment — 2011-12 Syracuse year in review

Published on June 11, 2012 by   •   Discussion
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Each Monday during the summer, The Juice Online will be looking back to some of the biggest storylines in the 2011-12 Syracuse sports year. This week, we take a look back at Syracuse leaving the Big East to go to the ACC.

On September 18, Syracuse and Pitt—two cornerstone members of the Big East conference—announced they were leaving for the ACC. It was the second time in the last decade that the ACC had taken schools from the Big East.

Shortly after, TCU, which was set to join the Big East in 2013, and West Virginia, another conference mainstay, bolted for the Big 12, leaving the Big East’s already questionable hold on an automatic BCS bid even more tenuous.

To make up for the losses, the Big East added five full time members (Temple, Houston, SMU, Memphis and UCF) and five football-only members (Air Force, Navy, Boise State, BYU and San Diego State).

» More Year in Review: Basketball’s magical run

In the end, realignment led to commissioner John Marinatto resigning in May with the conference’s television contract still up in the air. It also destroyed some of the most traditional matchups in the Big East including the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virgnia and Syracuse against Georgetown in basketball.

Still, the move made sense for the Orange on several levels. In terms of stability, the ACC hasn’t lost a member since South Carolina in 1971.

It also worked financially. In May, ESPN and the ACC renegotiated its contract throught he 2026-27 season, with each school netting around $17 million for almost 15 years, double what Syracuse was receiving with the Big East’s 2011 ESPN deal.

» What did you think of realignment?

WHAT WE SAID:

The Big East isn’t guaranteed a spot on television beyond next year while the ACC will be on ESPN, ESPN on ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 (you get the point) for the next decade. And the ACC has had stable leadership which has allowed it to poach the top schools from the Big East in the last 10 years. Will the ACC have the same football talent as the Big 10, SEC or Pac 12? Probably not. But it settles in right behind that list and has become the top basketball conference in the country. — Wesley Cheng

What was once a great basketball conference eventually shot itself in the foot with the inability to find strength in numbers by molding two distinct factions: 1. The large football schools eyeing bigger and bigger paydays as the BCS strengthened its grip on the sport; and 2. The basketball-only, smaller Catholic-based schools, especially the charter members, trying to protect their turf. Last year, the Big East failed to finalize a contract with ESPN that would have instantly added more to everyone’s coffers (somewhere between $7-8 million/year). Instead, it became the catalyst to the Orange, Pitt, WVU and TCU to wave goodbye to the conference last fall. — Brad Bierman

WHAT THEY SAID:

This is not Colorado and Utah slithering off to the Pac-10 or even Texas A&M jumping ship to the SEC. This is Syracuse, a founding member of the Big East, slinking off to the greener-for-now fields of the ACC. In 1979, Syracuse — following the vision of founder and first commissioner Dave Gavitt — joined forces with six other schools and formed the Big East. Along the way, the Orange came to define the league as much as any conference member. — Dana O’Neil, ESPN

Syracuse is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference, a move that feels both smart and depressing. Syracuse gets what every athletic director wants: a financial windfall, long-term security and a chance to play Duke in football. Pittsburgh is leaving for the same reasons. Truth is, almost every school would leave for the same reasons. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are just dominoes in a bigger movement — not the first and not the last. — Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated

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