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Are Pitt, Syracuse really serious about leaving Big East?


Anybody have an extra cell phone charger?
Big East associate comissioner John Paquette, who is here in Iowa City for the Pitt/Iowa game, may need one by the end of the day.

Everyone wants to know if the story of the weekend is true.

Big East contraction is in the news again after the reported this morning that Pitt and Syracuse  have applied for membership to the ACC. This came a few  hours after the New  York Times got the  ball rolling last night, reporting that those two schools are talking with ACC officials about joining that conference.

If the part about filing an application is true, that means Pitt and Syracuse are as good as gone from the Big East, bad news because Syracuse is one of the Big East founding fathers. Pitt joined in 1982 and later was among the first teams to join the conference in football.

Pitt officials gave me a no-comment about midnight and again about five seconds ago, and so far I have not seen athletic director Steve Pederson in the press box here at Kinnick Stadium.

The story is sprouting wings and Pitt may have to break its silence soon.

The basketball ramifications alone make this  front-page news, but the chance for Pitt and Syracuse to join a stronger football conference, with an ESPN TV contract and a conference championship game, should have their fans giddy.

The Times story set a record for the most”no comments” in 10-inchs.  Officials from both schools, including Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg twice, didn’t want to talk. Ditto  both conferences.

I really liked what Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said: “I can’t comment on that. Even that may be too much to say.”
I spoke with Paquette a moment ago — he is chatting amiably and informally with several media members this morning — and he made a good point. He said in several recent cases of conference realignment, the final move was unexpected, including Nebraska and Colorado leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Pac-12 and Utah defecting from the Mountain West to the Pac-12.

Paquette remembers the Big East meetings of 2003 when it was announced that Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech were leaving for the ACC. Of course, that actually did happen, but Syracuse was supposed to be leaving, too. In the end, Syracuse decided nearly at the last minute to stay and try to save the conference.

This time, everyone seems to be waiting for Oklahoma to either stay in the Big 12 or leave for the Pac-12. Oklahoma leaving would likely cause the fall of its conference, a move that may send some of Big 12 schools to the Big East. I am sure that is what Pitt is waiting to see.

If Oklahoma stays home, Pitt won’t.



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