There was quite the switch up in college athletics this weekend as Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh left the Big East Conference for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Things are sure to change for past rivalries and much of what Syracuse fans have previously come to know. For one thing, Syracuse will now be playing teams like Duke University, the University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University instead of past rivals like Louisville and Villanova Universities.
Even without an extreme attachment to Syracuse sports, I can understand the detriment this has for college athletics.
They are changing the conferences due to the lack of funds the Big East is able to provide for its teams. While the ACC is arguably the better conference, the Big East has been a tradition for Syracuse fans, and they're not entirely happy about having to give that up.
"This is about football, and when football is involved it's about money but it's always been that. The Big East expanded in the very beginning because of football," said Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim in an interview with ESPN. "If it were about basketball we'd still have a nice nine team Big East league but it isn't. It's about football [and] positioning for football, and as sad as I am to leave the Big East because it has been home for 30 some years, we have a great opportunity to play in a great, great basketball conference in the ACC."
This change is not only difficult for Syracuse fans, but everything that fans of any of the teams in the Big East know is now about to change. Legacy games, such as the Villanova-Syracuse basketball matchup, and heated rivalries between the University of Connecticut and Syracuse will disappear into thin air. Local bars will no longer be packed out for rivalry game nights – at least until Syracuse earns new rivalries.
"Is there going to be nostalgia? Are you upset about leaving the Big East? Sure, there's no question that you are. You wouldn't be human if you didn't," said Boeheim in the same interview. "But like I said, we're excited … and that's what we have to focus on now."
Despite the lack of funds in the Big East, Syracuse will be getting much better funding now that they have made the switch. They will also be facing teams that will make them grow even stronger as a program. It is quite an honor that Syracuse was able to switch to the ACC because that speaks to the strength of their football, basketball and lacrosse programs.
While so many of us are uncomfortable with change, we sometimes come to find that change is exactly what we needed. Hopefully this becomes the case for Syracuse. The change to the ACC will improve competition and help Syracuse grow into a stronger team by putting them in line to compete with the best of the best. It is time for some new rivalry to take place.
Living with two girls who grew up in Syracuse and have been going to games since they were young really puts the entire situation into perspective. They said that they are happy that they will see teams like Duke and UNC in the Carrier Dome, but they are not so happy about the fact that everything that they have grown to know is in the process of changing.
As far as the new competition and change that Syracuse is about to meet, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said in an ESPN interview that, "[He's] proud of the leadership of our conference to be ahead of things … We're in a period of change. Whether everyone agrees with it or doesn't agree with it – change is happening. It's not a revolution, it's evolution."
There's nothing like some friendly competition to kick start the season. In the end it doesn't matter what kinds of change takes place, ‘Cuse pride will live on forever.