NEW YORK — Syracuse was welcomed, along with Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, into the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday at a press conference at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in Times Square. Among those attending included Syracuse athletics director Daryl Gross, head basketball coach Jim Boeheim and Syracuse football legend Don McPherson.
We caught up with McPherson to get his take on Syracuse joining the ACC.
The Juice Online: It seems like you’re a fan of Syracuse’s move to the ACC.
Don McPherson: When I see Syracuse’s move to the ACC, I see the progress of the program. The days of being an eastern independent to the Big East to now part of the ACC in a college athletics standpoint that’s getting smaller and smaller at very the top. It’s great to see Syracuse as part of that group at the very top of college athletics.
TJO: How important is it that the ACC expands into the New York City market?
DM: It’s very important. This is a real key move. Commissioner (John) Swofford got the one question of ‘why have the press conference here?’ This is a market that, quite frankly, everyone wants. The Pac-12 does their press conferences here. You’ll see Oregon promote their Heisman candidates here in Times Square. A lot folks want to be here and be part of this market. And Syracuse in many ways, owns this market in terms of college sports. I think it’s very difficult to own this market, but I think Syracuse does a great job of having a presence here. To have this press event here means a lot for Syracuse University because it speaks to our fans that we’re not going anywhere. We may be leaving the old Big East, but we’re not going anywhere. We’re still right here.
TJO: Plus, Syacuse is familiar with a lot of teams that are currently in the ACC like Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech.
DM: This is not like the West Virginia going to the Big 12 with stadiums they’ve never seen before. Syracuse is going to play in stadiums that they’ve seen many times before. They’ve seen Miami Stadium. They’ve seen Boston College, Pitt. So it’s not like they’re going to uncharted waters. You’re exactly right. It’s not just a good thing for the current team, but it’s also a good thing for recruits, that you’re not taking them too far away from where they wanted to travel anyway. It’s a good thing they’re not going to far from their competitors.
TJO: How do you think Syracuse will do in its first year in the ACC?
DM: It’s a new conference with a lot of new things. Obviously a new head coach and a new quarterback. But I think there’s some stability at the running back position and I think (Syracuse football head coach Scott) Shafer does a great job with his defense around the football. I think this is a team that’s going to struggle just because of the newness, but once they settle down, they’ll be fine. I always get a little concerned when you get into another conference in conference play. You saw what happened to West Virginia when they got into the meat of the Big 12 conference. But I think this going to be a growing year. I can’t give you a prediction. I’d have to do a little more analysis with the schedule, but I do think there’s going to be some growing pains, and I think fans should be prepared for some growing pains. But I also think that they should be prepared for some surprises. I think they can get a win against Clemson early in conference play, that could be a big shot in the arm. What they do in September that leads to that is going to tell you what kind of team you have going into the conference.