In the wake of Monday's news that Syracuse would pay $7.5 million in exit fees for the chance to leave the Big East a year earlier than expected -- Syracuse will now be allowed to leave on July 1, 2013, instead of 2014 -- I have to say I expected some measure of nostalgia in the offing. The Big East is a longtime marquee basketball league being slowly but surely undone for football-related purposes, and charter member Syracuse's imminent departure provides a decent enough reason to ponder the past and pay respects to the embers of original commissioner (and Dream Team pioneer) Dave Gavitt's dream.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's 33rd season in the league will also be his last. You'd sort of expect him to wax nostalgic about the departure, right? Turns out, he has no interest in doing so, a point he made clear after coaching USA Basketball's win over Brazil Monday night. From the Syracuse Post-Standard:
“The Big East is not what it used to be,” said Boeheim, the Orange’s head basketball coach, following the U.S. club’s 80-69 exhibition victory over Brazil on Monday night. “I think the ACC is a tremendous league and it’s a tremendous opportunity for us. To stay in one time zone and play in a great conference -- a great all-around conference, but, specifically, a great basketball conference -- is a great thing.”
“This was coming,” Boeheim said of the announcement of SU’s jump to the ACC. “We knew it was coming. But it’s good to get it done. We didn’t want to wait another two years. One year is doable. I’m glad things worked out the way they have. It is what it is. We’ll focus completely on the Big East this year, just like we did last year. We’ll try to play the best we can and we’ll let future take care of itself."
That's not exactly a Vaseline-lensed trip down memory lane. In fact, it's a little cold. Or maybe I'm just putting too much stock into what conference affiliation means to coaches. After all, if anyone is in a position to look back on what being in the Big East meant to his program -- the Northeastern concentration, the tournament in Madison Square Garden, the rivalries with Georgetown and Connecticut -- it would be Boeheim. In this postgame video, the coach does admit that he'll miss the rivalry with UConn, and it's not like he seems thrilled about the move to the ACC ... but it's clear it isn't bothering him as much as it might bother your average old-school-minded, "I remember when"-type fans.
Such is life in the land of realignment. Sentimentality is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with conference affiliation now -- if it ever did in the first place. (Hint: It didn't.)