If there was ever a college basketball cash grab on a near par with the conference tournaments, it’s the annual inter-conference “challenges”. The idea that conference superiority can be decided by a handful of games that mean nothing outside of the win or loss accrued by the participants is downright ludicrous. Fans, though, buy into it and tune in or snap up tickets, prompting the powers that be to think its a good idea and re-up year after year.
The version of this circus that Orange fans are most concerned with is, of course, the Big East/SEC Challenge. Syracuse has played Florida in this event every year so far and after getting smacked, the Gators must have decided they’d had enough. This year, Boeheim’s squad will reportedly be taking their talents to the Bud Walton Center to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The fact that the men’s basketball team was playing in Arkansas on November 30th was a complete surprise to everyone in Syracuse, which prompted AD Dr. Darryl Gross to compose a very milquetoast e-mail to voice his displeasure. We all know that Syracuse doesn’t play true road games in the non-conference, so for the Big East to presume to schedule this game is simply out of line. Hell, it might even be illegal.Look, this isn’t about the scheduling of basketball games. There’s talk that this might screw with Syracuse’s non-conference slate, but any impact is likely to be negligible. Play Colgate on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday, that kind of thing. And, true road game or not, this is Arkansas we’re talking about here. They shouldn’t pose much of a challenge if next season’s squad is half of what it’s expected to be. The basketball aspects if this issue barely register.
What matters is that it’s yet another example of the Big East doing its best to give its departing members the old “dick in ass” routine. Fellow soon-to-be former Big East member Pittsburgh was supposed to have a home game this season as part of this challenge and they’re not even slated to participate at all. I’m convinced the only reason why Syracuse didn’t get cut as well is because the dickheads in charge know the Orange are too much of a draw. Their absence would be too conspicuous. As it is, how in the hell did they get stuck with Arkansas? Every college basketball fan in the world has only one matchup they want to see out of this bogus tournament: Syracuse/Kentucky. Instead, Kentucky with scheduled to play Notre Dame, and will likely smack the Irish harder than the Orange will the ‘Backs.
Look, I appreciate the DOC taking the high road throughout the whole fiasco that has been Syracuse’s departure from the BEast. He’s been nothing gracious and accommodating, which is more than can be said about the ADs at other departing schools. The DOC might not like being held hostage for two years with no say in the workings of a rapidly putrefying conference, but he’s been willing to play by the rules and work out a solution that works out best for everyone. He’s to be commended for that.
But now it’s time for the gloves to come off. There’s a difference between being cooperative and being a whipping boy. While I might not agree with some of the DOC’s decisions, most of them have been for the betterment of Syracuse athletics and have the various programs headed toward success. Even bending over backwards for the BEast hs been OK…until now. Here’s where the line needs to be drawn. Here’s where the DOC needs to stiffen up and say, “No more”. Here’s where the DOC needs to give the BEast the big “‘Eff You” and say, “You wanna sue us for breach of contract? Put it on our tab.”
I’ll admit that I was sad to hear that Syracuse was moving to the ACC. I’ve never known anything but the Orange in the Big East. But as time passes and it becomes more and more clear what kind of incompetent, childish morons run the conference, I almost wish Syracuse had left back in 2003.