As has been commonplace in the heralded Big East ‘Big Monday’ TV era, dating back to Feb. 1981 for Syracuse when the Orangemen played at Providence and then hosted Georgetown in a Sat.-Mon. combo winning both games, most conference teams at one time or another have games on Saturdays, sometimes even night games, then have one day off before playing Monday night in the weekly featured game that hits the league schedule each Jan. once the NFL regular season concludes.
TV money pays the bills and subsequently calls the shots to fill its programming needs, but it’s never made sense to us for so many important Big East games against top teams over the years coming on such short notice, and they don’t schedule that way in the ACC.
This year alone the Orange:
- Traveled to then #1 Louisville Jan. 19 with a quick Monday turnaround two days later against then #21 Cincinnati with an even earlier 3:30 tip due to special MLK Day ESPN programming.
- Play tonight’s game against Notre Dame with the Irish right behind SU with the same amount of conference victories, coming on the heels of having to play at Pittsburgh Sat. where the ‘Cuse is now 1-6 all-time at Petersen Events Center following the 10-point defeat.
- Will face an upcoming two-game stretch later this month in which following the emotional atmosphere of the final Georgetown game in the Dome in front of a likely record crowd with the added celebration of Carmelo Anthony’s number 15 jersey going up on the west side upper wall, then have to head right away to Milwaukee for a Big Monday meeting with dangerous Marquette.
After the unlikely comeback to nip Cincinnati 57-55 Jan. 21, Jim Boeheim, staring in the direction of Big East associate commissioner for communications John Paquette who sat courtside for the game, bristled at the mechanics used to set the league schedule.
“It’s ridiculous and stupid,” declared Boeheim. “Cincinnati played four league games in eight days and now has nine days off. And now we have a week off before our next game. (I realize) it’s all about TV. But let’s do what’s best for the kids first.”
Taking a look at ACC leader Miami’s schedule, the minimum space between its conference games is three days, and on average it’s closer to four. The Hurricanes have games every Sat. or Sun. in conference play, including the ACC’s long-running Sunday night package equivalent to the Big East’s ‘Big Monday’, but never such a short turnaround between games and they’re all televised or available online.
Moving forward there’s certainly the possibility that as the ‘Catholic Seven’ leave the Big East making the league barely recognizable from its heyday that ESPN changes its programming schedule; but in the immediate future of the ACC Syracuse is off Mondays in conference play, and the likelihood of having to play a Duke and Miami, for example, on such short two-day notice.