When Syracuse announced its intentions to move to the Atlantic Coast Conference fifteen months ago, it was the first domino to fall for the Big East Conference, now trying to remain together with most of the founding members set to move to new rivalries.
With their shift, the Orange proved two things. First, conference realignment decisions have little to do with basketball - moves are being driven by football. Second, if one of the Big East's six remaining original members could bolt for a larger check, anyone could.
Within a year following Syracuse and Pittsburgh's groundbreaking decision, the Big East was everything but dead. West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, and Notre Dame were off for better (or at least different) futures, leaving UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, and the seven Catholic basketball-only programs with an uncertain athletic mishmash.
And with it, the rivalries that the Orange had spent 33 years building were left behind. But head coach Jim Boeheim wants to make sure they don't die too.
"We're talking with St. John's and Georgetown right now, and Villanova," Boeheim mentioned on a local radio show yesterday. "We're heavily into talks."
St. John's fans know better than anyone the importance of keeping alive tradition and heritage. It's what has kept the Red Storm going through a decade of mediocre basketball.
The Johnnies' most prized asset is their home floor, Madison Square Garden, and the rest of the league knows that. By leaving for the ACC, Syracuse is losing an opportunity to have its fans travel to the Garden for road games against St. John's. But Boeheim's looking to avoid that loss.
And St. John's is more than willing to have these discussions. A non-conference home game against Syracuse could be one of few opportunities to sell out the Garden with the landscape of the unnamed "Vatican League." The revenues that St. John's gets from its MSG games are essential to the operation of the program.
Syracuse isn't the only team that is interested in continuing rivalries. Mike Brey and Notre Dame have expressed interest in scheduling St. John's after moving to the ACC.