In rather a surprising move this week, Syracuse University announced that it would be moving three home dates over the next seven seasons from Syracuse to the new football stadium at the Meadowlands. The three games will take place in September of 2012, 2014, and 2016 and will feature Southern Cal and two against Notre Dame. That's pretty cool news for college football fans in the New York City area as this adds to the series of games Army is hosting at Yankee Stadium starting next year. Of course, you would have to find college football fans in the New York City area to begin with.
While the Army deal makes a ton of sense as the Cadets bring back some older traditions such as playing big games in Yankee Stadium to boost the program and play literally on a bigger stage, it is kind of puzzling why Syracuse would move three really big home games out of the Carrier Dome into another state. West Point and the Bronx are a short drive on the New York State Thruway. Syracuse and East Rutherford is not.
It is also hard to figure out just what advantage Syracuse gets in moving these games. They are a weak team currently in a weak conference. One would have to figure that, at least for the 2012 game, they will be significant underdogs to USC. This cannot be a good recruiting boom for the Orange as they will be playing teams with higher prestige. Plus, they are moving games out of a fairly good facility that would easily sell out and draw big money to the City of Syracuse.
All this for an area without a real big local team. While New York loves big events, the biggest local Bowl Division team in the area is Rutgers. While Columbia is in the Ivy League, the area itself does not scream football on that level. Put a Final Four at Madison Square Garden and everyone wins. Notre Dame will use this to their advantage as they can now claim a game in the New York area four times in seven seasons. They play Navy next year at the Meadowlands, Army at Yankee Stadium, and now Syracuse twice more at the Meadowlands. Being able to recruit in the east is essential for Notre Dame and frankly will not hurt USC either. Army gets some much needed publicity and honestly, no one will care if they lose. Besides money, what does Syracuse get out of this deal?
Unless they get to be decent again, the answer is not much.
With camps open and the season upcoming, watch for some news summaries starting on Monday. The season is right around the corner.