HACK ATTACK: Syracuse in trouble

Put yourself in a recruit's position.

On the phone is Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni telling you about the wonderful tradition of the Syracuse program. Grads like Dwight Freeney and Marvin Harrison have come through here. Then there is Kevin Johnson, and, of course, Donovan McNabb.

There's the communication's school. Best in the country. The weather? A bit cold, but that's what the Carrier Dome is for.

That's where the buck stops.

With Boston College announcing its defection to the ACC, Sunday, the Big East, and Syracuse along with it, has been thrown into a sea of uncertainty.

In three years, the BCS will look at the Big East, and decide whether it is BCS worthy. Most accounts say it won't be.

Of the remaining Big East schools, Pittsburgh is the only team with a significant shot at being in the top 25 by season's end.

West Virginia has experienced a slide much like Syracuse's. Then there is Rutgers – the dead weight of the Big East – and finally Connecticut, whose football program is just learning how to walk.

What can Pasqualoni possibly offer to these recruits?

"We're still a part of the BCS for three more years," Pasqualoni said. "(Syracuse is) a great program and a great education. What else do they need?"

Quality opponents. A strong conference. A chance to compete for the national title.

With a BCS bid guaranteed only through the 2006 season along with a relatively small market with shrinking national coverage, Syracuse seems to have stamped a one-way ticket to mediocrity.

The Big East will likely expand at the conclusion of the year. The likes of ECU, Louisville, Navy, Army, South Florida, Marshall and Cincinnati top the list of potential candidates.

Slim pickings – no one can honestly say there is a BCS bid waiting at the end of the tunnel, not even Syracuse Chancellor Buzz Shaw.

"This isn't going to happen overnight," Shaw said.

Through this expansion fiasco, the real loser of the group will be Syracuse.

The Big 10, in the hopes of gaining that elusive 12th school, will more than likely take a hard look at Pitt and SU. They'll see Pitt as a bigger market and a school which geographically fits into the system more than Syracuse. They'll see a Pitt football team on the rise and a Syracuse team that mustered a measly seven points against Virginia Tech this past weekend.

If the Big 10 really does want the leftovers from the Big East, Pitt will be the logical choice.

If Pitt leaves, that leaves Syracuse as the best team in the conference – assuming Louisville doesn't come knocking. The last time anyone checked, Syracuse wasn't worthy of a BCS bid.

In three years, the Big East will have new teams, new rivalries and a chance to secure a BCS spot. Is a BCS bid on the horizon for this newly formatted conference?

Not unless anyone wants to see Rutgers play Connecticut.

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