The announcement of Syracuse's move to the ACC becoming official in 2013 is great news for everyone involved. Syracuse University and their fans can officially move on rather than being held in the awkward "in between conferences" world for another year. The Big East can take their next step forward in trying to keep their conference relevant in the landscape of college athletics.
The $7.5 million price tag attached to Syracuse leaving a year early also seems cheap. It was a well negotiated fee by Daryl Gross and the Syracuse administration. Especially considering West Virginia paid $20 million to leave two years early. In staying just one extra season, Syracuse University saved $12.5 million.
Most should consider the class exhibited by the unforced move a major with for the Orange and specifically Gross.
"We look forward to the new academic and athletic partnerships and the extraordinary competitive opportunities that membership in the ACC offers," said Gross, Director of Athletics for Syracuse University. "We are excited about both our final season in the BIG EAST and our long-term future with the ACC."
Given that Pittsburgh is still in limbo, and West Virginia paid nearly three times as much to leave, you could argue Syracuse has done the best job leaving the Big East out of any of the three schools. They kept all negotiations behind closed doors, remained classy in the public, and worked out a fantastic deal for all involved. Again, Dr. Daryl gross should be commended for his work on this deal as he continues to push the athletic program to new borders without sacrificing on-the-field/court progress.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford was excited about the news as well. In a statement sent to CuseNation.com, he said:
"The ACC looks forward to the arrival of Syracuse as a playing member on July 1, 2013. Syracuse will be an outstanding addition to the ACC. We've been preparing to welcome them into our membership and I'm pleased that Syracuse and the Big East were able to come to an agreement. As a league, we continue to be excited about our future"
Basketball will take care of itself with the North Carolina and Duke programs solid year-in, year-out mixed in with the steady winning that SU provides, but the football benefits like competition, exposure and overall reach hold their own.
The move to the ACC has already impacted football recruiting. Syracuse will continue to recruit some of the top high school talent in the country in basketball. But as Syracuse looks to continue to develop their football program, talent is needed. The move to the ACC has been a factor in nearly every commitment the Orange has received for 2013. It is entirely possible a top New York prospect like Augustus Edwards would have landed elsewhere if Syracuse were staying put in the Big East. A high-end prospect like Ebenezer Ogundeko may have already eliminated Syracuse if not for the move to the ACC.
Playing in a top football conference is important to high school prospects. They want to compete against the best. The move to the ACC is certainly a giant step forward for Syracuse in that regard considering the conference's tradition, speed and geographic area.
Monday's announcement will allow Syracuse to use this move in a more definitive way. Prior to today, Head Coach Doug Marrone and the Syracuse staff could simply tell prospects "we will be moving at some point in the future."
Now, they have a concrete date.
Every prospect they are recruiting now will play all of their games in the ACC as the school is set for the July 1, 2013 transition.
You can see the impact as Syracuse continues to make Georgia a pipeline state. Getting into Florida has been a priority for the staff as well, as well as the southeast altogether. Being able to play Miami and Florida State helps keep Syracuse in the mind of some of the better prospects in that state.
The move also places a greater importance on the 2013 class. It is the first class that will play all of its games in the ACC. A talent upgrade is needed in order for Syracuse to compete at a level higher than the Big East. It seems as if Syracuse is moving in that direction, though more work needs to be done.
At least we know when the new judgement meter can be set.
CuseNation.com's John Garcia Jr. contributed to this report