Bigger and better: Syracuse made right move by switching to the superior Atlantic Coast Conference

first_img Published on October 23, 2013 at 1:08 am Facebook Twitter Google+ It’s time to call it.Settle in, grab some Chick-fil-A and pour yourself a glass of sweet tea. The South has risen again.Less than four months into Syracuse’s first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it’s already clear: leaving the Big East for the greener pastures south of the Mason-Dixon was the right choice.There are the obvious reasons — money, TV rights, recruiting and not having to be in the Frankenstein monster of a conference that is the American Athletic Conference — but the past seven days painted the entire picture of the Orange’s new home’s superiority to the one it knew for 34 years.Last Wednesday at 10 a.m., individual game tickets went on sale for basketball. By noon, Duke tickets were sold out. North Carolina ones were almost gone, too. Pete Moore, Syracuse’s director of athletic communications, confirmed later that day that the Duke game sold out faster than any in Carrier Dome history.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We have sold more season tickets than we’ve sold in the last 20 years this year,” Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim said.On one hand, the conference comparison was pegged as an ultimate heavyweight bout. The Big East was a basketball league unparalleled in recent history. Other conferences had come and gone, but the Big East and its playground-style of hoops was a constant.On the other, the ACC ran neck-and-neck. The styles were different, but the results were almost always the same. You can sacrifice Georgetown, St. John’s, Connecticut and Villanova when you’re trading it out for Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State.“The only thing our fans will miss,” Boeheim said, “is the Big East Tournament.”That much was clear when frantic crowds swarmed the Carrier Dome box office on Wednesday, online requests poured in and eager customers clogged the Dome’s phone lines.And that much was clear from the electricity in the air in Charlotte, N.C., that day for basketball media day. Everyone wanted to know how the new league would stack up, and everyone — even Boeheim — felt it could be historically great.Then came Saturday evening on the gridiron. True heavyweights No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Florida State. Death Valley.It didn’t live up to the hype, but the Seminoles exceeded it, trouncing the Tigers and establishing themselves as a national power — and possibly the best bet to stop top-ranked Alabama from a third-straight national title.“It’s big as far as coming from the Big East where not a lot of teams had a lot of respect,” SU running back Jerome Smith said earlier in the season, “but going into this conference teams have a lot of respect.”The football conversation strayed from the basketball talk. The Big East argued for its depth — half of the league shared first place in its final season. The ACC had stars, which Big East supporters argued were overrated.This past weekend the results came in, and the answer was a resounding victory for the ACC.In South Carolina, FSU proved the ACC’s strongest case over the old Big East. In Atlanta earlier in the day, the Orange made the counter argument look laughable.SU, which won a share of the Big East crown last season, lost 56-0 to Georgia Tech, which finished 7-7 last season.The ACC has four teams in the AP Top 25 and three in the Top 10. The AAC, the conference that the Big East evolved into for football, has just two teams in the Top 25 and No. 18 Louisville is heading to the ACC after this season.When Louisville gets to the ACC, the league will have four of the five active college basketball coaches in the Hall of Fame and another perennially-ranked football team.The star power and the skill players in this fresh league are undeniable, and they’re still attracting more.Smith highlighted those skill players as the biggest difference from the Big East to the ACC. Head football coach Scott Shafer said in the coming years the ACC can compete with the Southeastern Conference. No one could say that about the Big East with a straight face.“I feel like in 10 years this conference will be fighting to be No. 1,” Shafer said.It’s not there yet, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than the Big East ever was.David Wilson is the sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DBWilson2. Commentslast_img

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