Yesterday, the Big Ten Conference— the greatest conference in all of the land, says this University of Illinois graduate — announced that "the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion." Cutting through that odd combination of corporate speak and academic babble, we think that means that the Big Ten wants to add a twelfth team. Cool! ESPN's excellent Adam Rittenberg laid out the leading candidates yesterday: Missouri, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Nebraska. Wait … Syracuse? Hmm.
Considering that Syracuse is the unofficial team of New York magazine — other than the Ivy League nerds, the dopey Midwesterners and weirdos like Joe who actually grew up here and went to, like, Fordham or something, practically the whole staff went there — we tossed the notion of Syracuse out to a few staffers, specifically Alexandra Martell and Aileen Gallagher. (Both can be counted on to scream "CUUUUUSE!" in the comments section anytime we ever write something about the Orange.) Because the Big Ten Conference is the greatest conference in the world, we assumed they would be doing backflips that the Big Ten would even consider them. We were wrong.
First off, they both thought the Big Ten would be a step down from the Big East, which is simply crazy. You realize your conference has South Florida and DePaul, right? You also have this weird thing where you have schools that don't play football actually hanging around a football conference, and then you let Notre Dame just sort of hop in and out at their pleasing. Yes, yes, we all like the Villanova–Georgetown rivalries. But beyond that, there's a lot of dregs in the Big East. Michigan and Ohio State and Indiana and Illinois are far better rivals, anyway.
There are those in our Big Ten camp who believe Syracuse isn't a geographic fit, but they're closer to the Midwest than Penn State, and at least Syracuse has a freaking airport. They also fit the bill academically, unlike some of the other schools being mentioned. (We're looking at you, Nebraska.) Syracuse should be honored that the Big Ten is considering them, and if the offer comes, they should jump. Syracuse is too good for the Big East. Come over to the Big Ten. We even have our own network, not that any of you can watch it.