The Syracuse SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has been getting acquainted with their new neighbors over the past weeks and started making the conference rounds to better familiarize Orange fans with their new digs. Yesterday, I talked BC-Syracuse and ACC expansion with TNIAAM's John Cassillo, and John was kind enough to answer some questions on ACC expansion and the BC-Syracuse rivalry.
BC Interruption: The whole "Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC" thing escalated really quickly. Were there any rumors or speculation among the fan base that a move like this could happen, or were you as surprised as the rest of us were?
Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician: I mean, we thought about it -- quite a bit, actually. At one point, we were pretty convinced we'd be getting invited to a 16-team Big Ten. We even made a Big Ten O'Meter back in 2010, calculating how likely an invite was. We were not happy about joining the Big Ten, and what with Syracuse's storied basketball traditions and all, how could we be? We'd even briefly talked about contingency plans, in case we didn't get an invite (preposterous now). So yes, in short, the Syracuse faithful were pretty much shocked. Not just that it happened, but by how quickly everything went down.
BCI: Atlantic Division or Coastal Division -- which division did you want to see Syracuse join? Are you happy with how it all shook out?
TNIAAM: In the short-term, the Atlantic's probably the worst possible place for us. Florida State and Clemson are on the rise, and it's not going to help our rebuilding project all that much. But in the long-term, we're better off being with traditional rival Boston College, along with promising ones in N.C. State, Maryland and Wake Forest. So while changing the divisions up altogether might have made the most sense, this is probably the best option for us.
BCI: From BC's perspective, the Eagles have a long history on the gridiron with Syracuse. Where does Boston College rank among the Orange's all-time football rivalries?
TNIAAM: This has been a topic of debate for Syracuse, as well. While our basketball rivalries are pretty cut-and-dry (Georgetown, Connecticut, St. John's/Villanova), we can't say the same about football. Like you guys, we were independent for so long, we only had about 20 years to put some conference rivalries together, and those took the form of Boston College, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Admittedly, I may personally hate Pittsburgh more than the Eagles, but a lot of that comes from when I went to Syracuse ('06-'10). Looking both forward and back, the similarities between our schools make us each other's natural rivals, and I'd consider Boston College to be our top all-time rival once we rejoin you in the ACC (though Pitt can lay some legitimate claims as well).
BCI: You are the new kids on the block, so what you guys say doesn't really matter. But let's ask anyway. Would you want to see the ACC expand further, or are you happy with 14 programs?
TNIAAM: I'd say let's go to 16, but that's a double-edged sword. If the ACC acts first (again), we're the first "superconference," but that may only be temporary. The SEC will move, and we'll likely lose two of the league's top current top four (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech). Other rumors have floated everybody from Maryland to Boston College to N.C. State departing in different scenarios based solely on television contracts. Should the ACC move last though, we may just be getting the Big East's final leftovers -- hence the double-edged sword.
All things aside, if we're giving out more invitations, the only way it makes any financial sense is if Notre Dame's involved. If forced to choose a partner for them, I'd prefer screwing over Rutgers to leaving UConn out in the cold, since the Huskies provide value in one more sport than the Scarlet Knights' zero (true story). No way I can buy into bringing on either without the Irish.
BCI: General impressions on the new ACC men's basketball schedule format. Do you like the fact that we'll get two BC-SU games each year? Impressions of the permanent rival setup?
TNIAAM: I like permanent rivals, since I felt like we had that setup with Georgetown for so long. Makes a lot of sense to feature your most heated rivalries as much as possible. But I understand folks' frustration with it in the ACC. Everyone wants those Duke and UNC dates, and now they're a lot less frequent, which can also hurt the bottom line. On Syracuse-BC, it's not really a priority in basketball, to be honest. We definitely would've preferred Pittsburgh, which is just one example of the system's biggest flaw. It views rivalries as constant within each sport, which frankly, isn't true.
BCI: Syracuse doesn't field a baseball team but when Pitt joins the conference will have an odd number of teams. Is there any talk of elevating baseball with the move to the ACC? Any other new varsity programs on the radar with the infusion of ACC cash money on the way?
TNIAAM: TNIAAM actually ran an article on just this topic last week, and I think baseball appears to be the choice amongst fans. The biggest issue is weather (there's snow on the ground up at 'Cuse for most of the season), but the softball team seems to get around it. Men's hockey would be the other pick, but from what I understand about college hockey realignment, there's not a whole lot of room for us to join BC in Hockey East (not like we'd be good enough to do so anyway). While nothing's set in stone, I think the two sports above make the most sense. We'd have to choose one, not both, though, since we'd also need to add another women's sport.
BCI: Last one. General impressions on Boston College overall, both the school and athletics?
TNIAAM: I've never been one to hate too much on BC -- I've always wanted you guys to do well, because I thought it was good for Northeast college football. I also respect your academic tradition, and wish we'd get our act together on getting that aspect of Syracuse back up to par (is top 50 really that much to ask of a well-known New York private school?). All that said though, we were extremely bitter about your departure from the Big East, and a lot of us were holding a grudge until the day we were officially accepted into the ACC. That's all water under the bridge now, however. Out of all of our new conference rivals, Boston College is probably the team I most want to see successful, but there's a pretty fair chance I'm in the minority there.