Apr 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Syracuse Orange attack Collin Donahue (17) brings the ball up field against Duke Blue Devils defender Bill Conners (55) at the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium. Duke Blue Devils defeat the Syracuse Orange 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
When Syracuse joins the ACC for the 2014 season, ACC men's lacrosse is going to be pimpin'. Even more pimpin' than it already is. Starting in 2014, the conference will account for 22 National Championships, 44 NCAA Tournament championship game appearances and 88 Final Four appearances. An ACC club will have played in each of the last 10 National Championship games, winning seven of those 10 titles.
For comparison, if I asked you to assemble five men's college hockey programs in a conference with the goal of matching that level of sustained NCAA Tournament success, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with five programs. I suppose a conference of Boston College, Wisconsin, Denver and two of Minnesota / Michigan / North Dakota / Boston University might get you close, but ultimately still falls short of the dominance that ACC lacrosse (and Syracuse) have achieved over the last decade.
The addition of Syracuse gives the conference five members. That's still one member shy of the minimum six required to get a free pass to the NCAA Tournament. Not that it really matters, as all five clubs will likely earn an at-large bid to the tournament in most years.
Having just five conference members is kinda awkward, not only when it comes to NCAA auto-bids but also in the scheduling department. Six programs is also much more manageable in terms of scheduling and the ACC Tournament than five. As such, I'm fully expecting calls for other ACC programs, including Boston College, to join the ranks of the ACC lax bros to only grow louder leading up to the 2014 season.
With the addition of the Orange the ACC is still a member short of qualifying for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Attention N.C. State, Boston College, Florida State, et al.: This is your chance to make the magic happen, people.)
Simply put, men's lacrosse isn't coming back to the Heights short of a significant downsizing of the department's 31 varsity programs and new leadership. Florida State's athletics department has room to grow with just 18 varsity sports but has money troubles.
I could see men's lacrosse being reinstated at N.C. State, but only after the Wolfpack wins the league in basketball this season, the A.D. decides to build on hoops success by quickly growing the department by another 6-7 varsity sports, only to be unable to support those programs a decade later, sending the department into a death spiral of financial debt that forces the university to cut back by removing the varsity status of five of those 6-7 newly added sports. That would be the Debbie Yow-iest thing to do.
Which ACC program is most likely to become men's lacrosse program #6?
Boston College (104 votes)
Clemson (14 votes)
Florida State (23 votes)
Georgia Tech (11 votes)
Miami (6 votes)
N.C. State (26 votes)
Pittsburgh (19 votes)
Virginia Tech (29 votes)
Wake Forest (27 votes)
259 total votes