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The Orange and the ACC

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

— Still, the bottom line cannot be ignored. SU both gains and loses plenty of points by leaving its ancestral home for more lucrative territory.

Since football drives all these decisions, we’ll start there. Doug Marrone is slowly bringing the Orange back to respectability, and the facilities are getting better, but many more steps remain. There’s a real chance SU might get roughed up in the initial ACC stages, but at least it goes there with a chance to be respectable, something you might not have said four years ago.

For lacrosse, it’s an absolute bonanza. Annual men’s games with Virginia are already classics. Adding Duke, North Carolina and Maryland only strengthens the SU standing. And they play the best women’s lacrosse in the country in the ACC, too, so that will only get better.

Of course, the biggest jolt will come in basketball. There’s no need to recall SU’s primary role in making the Big East the nation’s preeminent hoops conference. From the rivalries built up with the likes of Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova and Connecticut to the March tournament in Madison Square Garden, which supplanted all others for atmosphere and dramatics, leaving the Big East behind is tough to take.

Then again, the Big East was already diluted. After BC, Virginia Tech and Miami took off for the ACC and SU got rejected eight years ago, the conference expanded beyond reason to 16 teams, with a 17th (TCU) ready to climb on board. Everyone, Jim Boeheim included, thought it was too much.

So while those old rivalries might get cast aside, it doesn’t have to be that way. Boeheim should forget the December cupcakes and, as much as possible, include the old-line Big East rivals in games during the early part of the season. Those would provide fantastic atmospheres, at the Carrier Dome and elsewhere, while still allowing the Orange to move ahead with their ACC integration.

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