In September of 2011, Syracuse announced it was leaving the Big East, a league it helped found, to join the ACC. Some SU supporters were upset with the school’s decision, while others argued it was a proactive move.
We interviewed two UConn students (Tim Fontenault and Danny Maher) last week to get a sense of the negative side of the latest round of reshuffling. This week, we sat down with Syracuse junior Ben Glidden to hear what it’s been like on campus at SU since the announcement.
College Spun: First and foremost, as a student, how do you feel about Syracuse leaving the Big East for the ACC?
Ben Glidden: For me, the move to the ACC is extremely exciting. Getting a chance to play teams like Duke and North Carolina in basketball and Maryland in lacrosse is awesome. Even rekindling that rivalry we once had with Boston College will be great. Of course, I understand how some would be upset with the move. Losing our Big East rivalries is tough, but I still think it’s the best move for our school and our athletic programs.
Jim Boeheim made it known that he wasn’t thrilled that SU was leaving the league it helped found. What was the general sentiment on campus when it was first announced, and has it changed since?
BG: There was a solid group of people who were upset with the move. But I think as humans, we often reject the idea of change. Syracuse IS the Big East so traditional SU fans are going to oppose it. Since then, most have seen the benefits and are excited for the move. But there will always be those people who will stay latched on to the Big East and, in turn, won’t agree with the move.
Duke/UNC have long ruled men’s basketball in the ACC. Where do you see Syracuse and Pittsburgh fitting in? Top-tier or just below?
BG: Syracuse and Pitt will be top-tier in ACC basketball and it will make a basketball league that needed more talent, far more competitive. We will see some big-time battles between Syracuse, Pitt, North Carolina and Duke and even teams like NC State and Florida State who are emerging within the conference.
With college football driving conference realignment, how important are the next few seasons on the field for SU?
BG: The next few seasons are big for Syracuse. It really needs to establish itself in the ACC. The level of competition is far higher there and if we are a bottom-of-the-barrel team in the ACC, SU will be looked down upon, regardless of its basketball prowess.
If the ACC eventually winds up the odd man out of a four, 16-team super-conference system, do you think SU has done enough to warrant inclusion into one of these conferences?
BG: Syracuse made the move from a dying conference to one that’s thriving. I don’t really see the super-conference thing happening in the near future, but if it does, I think both Syracuse and the ACC are in the right position to become a part of it.
If you were in John Swofford’s shoes, what steps would you take to ensure the ACC’s survival?
BG: I would spend less time looking at realignment and more time concentrating on making the conference as strong as possible. If the ACC continues to be a solid conference with great leadership, schools won’t want to leave, they’ll want to join.
If you had to point and laugh at (or feel sorry for) another school in this conference realignment mess, which would it be?
BG: I’d have to point and laugh at Georgetown and other schools without FBS programs. Football drives conference realignment and if a school doesn’t compete at the highest level, it’s hopeless. Schools like Georgetown and Villanova are destined to be in weak conferences forever unless they make the jump.