This weekend the college football — and really basketball — world was set on fire when Syracuse and Pitt announced that they would move from the Big East to the ACC. The ACC confirmed the move Sunday and the conference expansion train is firmly rolling downhill in the world of college sports.
NBA stars are still fiercely loyal to their alma maters — see rookies singing their school’s fight songs in front of the team as hazing — and friendly wagers ensue between teammates when big games come around. But could you really imagine a world where Syracuse does not play Connecticut for the Big East crown? Or Pitt avoids Georgetown or West Virginia all season?
These are questions Houston Rockets guard Jonny Flynn cares about. After all, he rose to the sixth pick in the 2009 Draft largely on the back of his incredible performance in a six overtime game against Connecticut in the Big East Tournament. That game at Madison Square Garden had everyone on the edge of their seats very very early in the morning.
Now, that rivalry seems like it is gone. And Flynn, for one cannot believe his beloved Orange are leaving the Big East behind.
“Syracuse to the ACC? Cmon this is getting out of hand now. The thought of that is out of hand[,]” Flynn tweeted Saturday. “New conference. More exposure. More money. Yet we’re still talking about “living infractions” & players selling things they own. With all that said if that actually happens… Sorry ACC basketball. In advance[.]”
Yes, Flynn does not approve of the money-grab that seems to be going on in college sports right now. But he is pretty confident his Orange can take the likes of North Carolina and Duke on a yearly basis in the ACC.
Flynn’s draft stock and legacy were built on his Big East tournament performance and that stage — carefully placed and promoted on ESPN — is gone for Syracuse now. Reporters constantly asked Flynn about what that performance did for him and it likely moved him up into the top 10 of the Draft that year. Who would have taken an undersized scoring point guard who seemingly burst onto the scene in early March ahead of Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings? (David Kahn, that’s who… but that is another story).
He undoubtedly felt the effects of playing on the kind of stage the Big East, long considered basketball’s best college conference, provided. The ACC is far from bad though. But it is not the same. It won’t have the same New York stage and it will always be a Duke-North Carolina league. And, of course, nobody is considering how much travel Syracuse will have to make for that weekday road trip to Florida State or Miami.
Flynn has struggled to adjust to the NBA. Injuries slowed him down last year when he averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.4 assists per game. He will not be in the Rubio/Flynn backcourt that David Kahn envisioned in 2009 as Flynn never really clicked with Kurt Rambis. The Wolves traded him to the Rockets on draft night.
Somehow, I think he wishes he were still playing that six overtime game against Connecticut in the Big East one more time.
Photo via DayLife.com.