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Jim Boeheim: “The Big East isn’t what it used to be”

Jul 17, 2012, 8:54 PM EDT

Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim directs his team against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first half of their men's NCAA East Regional basketball game in Boston

The disintegration of the Big East was fast-tracked a year on Monday when it was officially announced that Syracuse would be leaving the conference after the 2012-2013 academic year.

For the diehard college basketball fans that grew up in the Northeast (ME!), losing Syracuse — and eventually Pitt — is disheartening and disappointing. Jim Boeheim is one of the Big East’s pillars. He, along with John Thompson Jr., Jim Calhoun and Lou Carnesecca, helped build the Big East into the nation’s best basketball conference.

Madison Square Garden in the second week of March for five days of Big East hoops was one of the highlights of my year. I can’t tell you how many of Big East tournament moments count among the most memorable of my childhood sports fandom. I grew up loving the Huskies and despising the Orange — and the Hoyas and the Panthers and the Johnnies — all while rooting for the Big East, as a conference, to have as much success on a national scale as possible.

Seeing what’s left of the Big East’s carcass is depressing, and I was only watching. You’d expect someone like Boeheim to feel the same way, right?:

“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.”

It hurts, but he’s right.

When the Big East was at its peak, the league was all about the hoops. They didn’t need to add the likes or SMU or USF or UCF or Houston to “bolster” football. It’s like watching a grandparent battling cancer pass away. Losing them is sad, but you knew it was coming and seeing their misery end is consoling:

“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.”

You know, sometimes I really hate college football.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. newbigeast - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    okay let us stop now…Syracuse and Cryer Jim are leaving. Great let them go….they will now be the at best the third best basketball team each year….and non bowl eligible in football. Syracuse will soon be what Boston College has become non entity in basketball.
    Hey Jim stop saying its not the same Big East….you are a fraud….love how you ditch your friends. Lou wouldn’t have nor John Thompson’s;….oh I get it you know Lavin will out coach you with his talented crew.

    • brianjoates - Jul 18, 2012 at 11:36 PM

      There isn’t really anything he can say but support the move, he wants his job still. If Georgetown had a real football program , they would have left. What conference doesn’t want a foothold in the DC,NoVA, MD market? The Huskies will go eventually, they are dying for an invite to the ACC. Having somewhat of an old Big East division vs ACC division within the ACC would be just fine.

  2. shzastl - Jul 17, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    My sentiments exactly. The original big east – cuse, gtown, St Johns, nova, uconn, providence, Pitt, the Hall, bc – was awesome. Now these 16 team conferences are a joke

  3. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Pedophile defender….oh wait statute of limitations never mind. Continue

  4. imforbigblue - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Don’t kid yourself dUKe and unc will not just walk over SU every year

  5. frug - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    You know, sometimes I really hate college football.

    That’s not entirely fair. Yes, football has been the biggest factor in realignment, but it is not the only one. The Big East’s shortsighted decisions (like passing on Penn St. in the ’80’s) and overall mismanagement were a huge factor in the Big East’s implosion.

    The fact the league’s commissioner didn’t even find out ‘Cuse’s and Pitt’s defection until a reporter asked for a comment while he was attending a football game less than 48 hours before the official announcement should tell how poor the Big East leadership really was.

    • frug - Jul 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      I should also add the Big East’s decision to pass on ESPN’s $130 million offer 2 years ago to the BEast’s shortsighted decisions.

    • LPad - Jul 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      given what’s happened at Penn State not sure if you can say passing on Penn State was a bad thing

      • frug - Jul 20, 2012 at 7:10 PM

        Non matter how bad this thing gets, the Big East would still have been much better off adding them in ’82. The failure to add the region’s most powerful athletic department ensured that the Big East was never going to be able to compete with the other conferences long term.

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