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The Orange and the ACC

In the end, SU had to leave Big East for long-term viability

— Well that sure happened in a hurry.

From Friday-night murmur to Saturday-morning rumor to Sunday-morning fact, Syracuse University’s move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference was considered, consumed and confirmed in what looked like record time.

This meant digesting a lot of shockwaves, plus the usual rounds of bashing by the usual critics contending that SU and Pittsburgh had set in motion the ruination of college sports, the decline of Western civilization, etc. etc.

When all the noise, sound bites and accusations quieted down, though, a couple of fundamental questions remained. Why did SU do it? And what will it mean down the road?

The first answer, in my view, isn’t that complicated. SU had to move. Either the school languishes in a Big East with a wild and uncertain future, or it goes to a place where, if nothing else, long-term viability and security would be present. Yes, money is involved in that security, but it’s not the only factor.

It’s the other answer that, obviously, won’t get fully processed until we’re years down the road. What is safe to assume, though, is that the presence of SU in a far-flung ACC whose geographic reach spreads from New England to South Beach will shake up a lot of our preconceived notions, for better and worse.

From an overall standpoint, SU’s athletics department has won in a way Charlie Sheen can never imagine. The ACC has done so well in so many sports that it cannot help but improve the type of athlete the school can recruit, because the level of competition will be stronger.

Add to it the academic part. Yes, a lot of people pooh-pooh it as if scholastic standing doesn’t mean a thing in these endeavors, and maybe it is only a small factor. But aligning with great schools like Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Wake Forest, and reuniting with Boston College, is quite nice.

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