Boeheim on Big Ten: Bigger not always better

His school is one often mentioned as a possible target for Big Ten expansion, but Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim said Tuesday that he hopes to see as little change as possible to the current conference lineups, both for his school and for the Big East.

"We'll see what happens, but I think we're all hoping the Big Ten decides on a smaller, maybe a one-team expansion," Boeheim said as the league's coaches and athletic directors meet for their annual spring meetings. "Maybe they wouldn't touch the Big East, and we'd be fine."

Syracuse was a founding member of the conference in 1979, and Boeheim has been the Orange head coach throughout its existence in the league. He said the league has changed its size over the years, but its current setup -- 16 teams for basketball, eight for football -- is one that is working well.

"I think we have a good league, a very good situation," he said. "It's survived everything. Everybody thought we wouldn't survive '04-05, and we survived and really have done really well. ... It's been good for us obviously. It's been good for everybody. We've got one of the two or three best basketball conferences in the country, and our football has held its own. We hope we come out of this as we are."

The Big East has extended outside its original geography, adding USF to include a Florida market, and adding Midwest basketball programs like DePaul and Marquette. Boeheim said models that have the Big Ten expanding from 11 teams to 14 or even 16 in football might be beyond the ideal size for a league.

"I think the ACC learned that a big expansion doesn't necessarily help you," said Boeheim, referencing the league taking Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College from the Big East six years ago. "A real big expansion, like five teams? We play 16 in basketball, which is big, but we don't play 16 in football. You're going to play 16 in football and basketball, I'm not sure you end up with a product you really want. It might make a little more money, but I don't know if it's good for college sports."

Boeheim said he's confident in the league's future, however its lineup changes as a result of the Big Ten's moves. The idea of playing a conference schedule largely outside Syracuse's traditional backyard is something he doesn't want to see.

"To me it's a geographic thing," he said. "There are some geographies that are a little expanded, but we're still basically an East coast league. We're up and down the East coast, but the majority of our teams are in the Northeast. I think it's better for schools, athletes, fans to play in your area. When you go out of your area to play, whichever way it is, it's more travel, different things come into play. I think teams don't necessarily do well when they play way in a conference way outside their area. It changes the dynamics of recruiting, traditional rivalries. It makes things different."

Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross declined to comment through a school spokesperson, saying he wanted the league to have one unified voice this week from commissioner John Marinatto.

[Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 11:25am]

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