first_img Published on July 17, 2012 at 11:07 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Facebook Twitter Google+ Seven schools, five without a football program and a sixth that was more than 20 years away from joining Division I, became the Big East in the summer of 1979.Football was irrelevant. Basketball was king.Three schools, all with their football programs in mind, will depart the Big East by the summer of 2013 in pursuit of gridiron glory and monetary maximization. West Virginia already jumped ship. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are soon to follow.Basketball is irrelevant. Football is king.“The Big East is not what it used to be,” Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim told The Post-Standard on Monday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd as announced earlier in the week, Syracuse will officially enter the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, 2013, after agreeing to a $7.5 million buyout that allows SU to depart one year early.It leaves one last go-round in the league that built SU athletics. One final year in the conference that blessed its fans with Georgetown vs. Syracuse. One final season in Boeheim’s tenure as Big East headmaster.The time has come for Orange fans to peer into Onondaga Lake and cherish a reflection filled with John Thompson’s, Jim Calhoun’s and Lou Carnesecca’s.“Next year will be a year we know we’ll reflect upon as we go through it,” Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said. “It’s a great transition. It’s actually nice that we have this year to transition and still compete in the Big East with a lot of our colleagues that we hope to play in the future in a non-conference sense.”Gross is certainly correct in that regard. Had SU worked out an exit agreement that allowed it to up and leave immediately a la West Virginia, the departure would not have felt complete.There needs to be one final game between a Boeheim and a Thompson, even if it’s Thompson III. And you better believe there will be bragging rights for the final chapter in an historic rivalry.Any future nonconference games between them will be cosmetic epilogues at best.“It is what it is,” Boeheim told The Post-Standard. “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.”The future includes a newly extended 15-year television deal with ESPN that runs through 2026-2027, granting ACC schools greater financial security for the foreseeable future. The agreement gives ESPN title sponsorship rights for the ACC championships in sports outside of football.Though Big East purists were displeased last September when SU announced its impending departure, the decision was, in hindsight, a sound one.Gross has remained steadfast in his desire for Syracuse to ascend to the top of collegiate athletics, and the Orange won’t get there on Boeheim’s coattails. Even if he remains the school’s winningest coach.Football means money. Money means stability. And Gross, Cantor and Co. maneuvered themselves into a league with much better football and still-relevant basketball.“This was coming,” Boeheimtold The Post-Standard. “We knew it was coming. But it’s good to get it done.“I think the ACC is a tremendous league and it’s a tremendous opportunity for us.”It’s better for everyone to see Boeheim face off against Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams than Donnie Jones (Central Florida) and James Dickey (Houston).Who?That’s all still a year away, though. And Syracuse fans can’t forget that. If ever there was a reason to flock to the Carrier Dome for as many games as possible, SU’s impending exit is that reason.Each game will be remembered as “the last time” or “the final matchup,” meaning fans can watch history be written.The final words to Syracuse’s volume of the Big East encyclopedia will certainly be bittersweet, sad even. It’s difficult to envision one without the other after 30–plus years of friendship.But remember, at least there’s one year left.Said Gross: “It’s a very historical moment for Syracuse athletics.”Michael Cohen is a staff writer at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13. Commentslast_img

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