The ACC added Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame Monday, expanding the conference to 15 teams for the 2013-14 academic year. The Chronicle's Sports Editor Daniel Carp sat down with Jacob Klinger, Sports Editor of The Daily Orange at Syracuse, and Mike Monaco, Sports Editor of The Observer at Notre Dame, to discuss the impacts expansion could have on Duke and the conference as a whole next year.
Daniel Carp: This July 1 date was one that Syracuse has had on their calendar for nearly two years and Notre Dame has been looking toward since September. How can you describe the anticipation at your respective schools for finally joining the ACC?
Mike Monaco: I think everyone is really excited about it. It's obviously a little different with football remaining independent but having the five-game affiliation with the ACC, because football really drives the athletic support of the students at school. Everything really revolves around football. But for the other sports people are really excited, especially for men's basketball. You think about Duke, North Carolina, whether it's home or away, the students are really excited about that.
Jacob Klinger: I think at Syracuse the reaction has been different depending on the sport. For instance, obviously men's basketball and men's lacrosse, we can finally be the best conference in their respective sports, and they're very excited for that. Duke beat Syracuse in the national championship in men's lacrosse this year, and I don't think you need to say a whole lot about basketball. But for football, the ACC isn't exactly a superpower in terms of conferences, but it's a lot better than what Syracuse has competed against in the past.
DC: With this move, we're seeing significant changes to 60 years of ACC tradition and the essential destruction of the Big East as we know it. Do you think right now the focus is on the hopes for an expanded ACC or the lamentation of losing the Big East?
MM: I think at Notre Dame there is definitely a sense of losing the Big East for basketball. It might be different at Syracuse, because it's a bigger and higher-profile basketball school than Notre Dame, but I got the chance to go to the Big East Tournament in New York City this year, and if there was one word I had to describe it, it was bittersweet. The ACC will be great, especially with some teams from the Big East, but I definitely think there was a sense of loss.
JK: On campus, people that have been through the experience of Big East basketball for three or four years now, they're probably the ones feeling more of a sense of loss. If you're a freshman or sophomore and you're not from the Syracuse area or grew up with Syracuse athletics, I don't think they're going to miss too much other than losing certain opponents like Georgetown.
DC: As the ACC's footprint expands further into the Northeast and now the Midwest with the inclusion of Notre Dame, some concerns regarding travel have been raised. Being at schools that lie on the outside of that footprint and will have the farthest to go to play ACC matchups, have those issues been discussed?
MM: At Notre Dame there hasn't been much public discussion about it. I'm sure that it does make things more difficult. That being said, Notre Dame was sort of out place within the Big East. I'm sure with the ACC everything will be a little bit farther, but they've always had a lot of travel to do.
JK: Issues of travel haven't been discussed too heavily, but I know one of the things I've been looking into is the disparity in recruiting budgets heading into next year. The average recruiting expense for last year's ACC members in the year 2011 was $824,959.50. Syracuse's total recruiting expenses that year were just over $676,000. For Pitt, it was $511,126 and for Notre Dame it was $1,570,541. I don't see how they wouldn't have to adjust that budget to keep up with the rest of their new conference.
DC: The focuses recently have been with the impacts expansion will have on men's basketball, football and men's lacrosse. But what's another sport you could invision being greatly affected by the addition of Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh to the ACC?
JK: I don't know about you, Mike, but a few sports that come to mind for me are men's soccer, field hockey and women's tennis. The Big East is traditionally a pretty good men's soccer conference. They've fallen off in the last few years. But it will be interesting to see how Syracuse competes with some of those traditional ACC powers like Maryland, North Carolina and Wake Forest. In women's tennis, the ACC is widely considered to be the best conference in the country, and Syracuse has been moving up in the rankings in the last couple of years.
MM: I can't limit it to one sport either. From talking to the coaches on campus, I think women's soccer is going to be really exciting next year. North Carolina was up here for a nonconference game earlier this year and it was a great game, came down to the final minute. And in the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame played Wake Forest. I think it's going to be a really exciting conference for women's soccer as well as men's. And it doesn't really apply as much to Syracuse, but with Notre Dame baseball has always been a pretty good program, and the SEC, Pac-12 and ACC are the premier baseball conferences out there. So joining the ACC will be great for Notre Dame baseball.
DC: And wrapping up here, if you guys could each pick one game that you're really looking forward to seeing in the ACC next year, what would it be and why?
MM: I think for me personally, and I feel comfortable speaking for most of the student body on this one, the first time Notre Dame men's basketball travels to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a basketball game, I think that's going to be incredible. I think that's something that could invigorate the Notre Dame student body. It's a discussion that took place between the athletic department and the student body this past basketball season was that sometimes the student support was lacking when it wasn't College Gameday in the house or a big nonconference game against Kentucky. So I think that type of conference game in general could help drub up a lot of support for other sports outside of the crazy, rabid football fandom.
JK: When Syracuse hosts Duke, I think will be probably the one I'm most looking forward to. They'll probably pack about 35,000 people into the Carrier Dome for that one and it will definitely be a spectacle to behold. Should be a pretty good basketball game, as well. I'm especially interested because there's been some talk about the idea of putting the basketball court in the middle of the field at the Carrier Dome, and would allow them to seat upwards of 50,000 or more. I don't know how it would work, but if it did, that game would have a Final Four in the dome kind of feel.
DC: On both of those accounts, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to seeing the teams a bit shell-shocked the first time they play in front of the atmosphere at Cameron. For Syracuse especially, with the return of Michael Gbinije this year to his old stomping grounds, that game will be a huge matchup. And I definitely would mind taking a trip up to the Carrier Dome to see what that looks like either.
Lots of changes coming to the ACC next year, and it should be one of the most exciting seasons in the conference's history. Jacob, Mike, thanks so much for taking the time to talk, and welcome to the ACC.