- Gene Wojciechowski, Senior Writer
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Funny how some of the schools and major administrative players in the Big East and ACC realignment drama have done philosophical 180s. Just goes to show that loyalty always seems to have an expiration date.
Presenting a fond look back (and forward) at some of our favorite soapbox moments:
"This is a case that involves broken commitments, secret dealings, breaches of fiduciary responsibility, the misappropriations of conference opportunities and predatory attempts to eliminate competition."
-- Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg on a joint lawsuit filed by Pitt, UConn, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Rutgers and brought against the ACC and its two newest members, Boston College and Miami, formerly of the Big East (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 1, 2003)
"We were flattered by the ACC's interest in us. We're grateful to receive the invitation to join this very special conference and feel privileged to be moving forward in your company."
-- Pitt's Nordenberg (ACC teleconference call with media, Sept. 18, 2011)
"All of our energy and focus at this time needs to be on building a stronger Big East."
-- Nordenberg (Post-Gazette, July 1, 2003)
"The Big East has been Pitt's conference home for nearly 30 years. It has been a good home that we will leave with many fond memories and many strong friendships."
-- Nordenberg (ACC teleconference call, Sept. 18, 2011)
"We had a double agent among us."
-- Syracuse chancellor Kenneth Shaw on Boston College's involvement in the Big East's restructuring discussions (The Daily Orange, SU student newspaper, Oct. 17, 2003)
"But we really also think about the quality of the institutions, and we're just very excited to be there and be with the ACC."
-- Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor (ACC teleconference call, Sept. 18, 2011)
"When the BC players came out on the field, Syracuse fans were throwing dollar bills at them, yelling that they were greedy, that they should take the money and run. There were coins thrown, batteries. It was a little dangerous. And they were yelling at Gene [DeFilippo, Boston College athletic director]. Gene had a police escort that entire day."
-- Boston Globe sports writer Mark Blaudschun, who covered the Oct. 18, 2003, game
Reporter: "Everybody remembers what happened in 2003 and 2004 when Miami, Virginia Tech and BC left. Do you expect that similar treatment when you go to Big East places and are you afraid of legal action from the remaining Big East schools?
Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor: "This is Nancy Cantor from Syracuse. I think we certainly expect that there will be collegial treatment." (ACC teleconference call, Sept. 18, 2011)
"We are extremely disappointed with Boston College's decision to leave. Our membership is very surprised the ACC presidents continue to come back into our league for membership."
-- Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese (official statement on Big East website, Oct. 13, 2003)
"While the Big East is in the process of putting this all back together again, the ACC is going to come for two more [Big East] teams. They're going to find another reason. They've done it twice now. And they've done it, in my opinion, it hasn't been done aboveboard. I respect the right for people to leave, but I think there's a way to do business. And they've done it twice, and they've bludgeoned it."
-- Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese (interview with WFAN's Mike Francesa, Sept. 19, 2011)
"We won't play BC after they leave here. I have no desire to play Boston College. Nor for the fact that they are leaving, but how they did it. I will not play Boston College as long as I'm here.''
-- UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun (Hartford Courant, Oct. 20, 2003)
Calhoun said he's always felt a loyalty to the Big East, where UConn is a charter member, but believes the school is in a position where it must now find the best fit -- socially, academically and athletically. "From a basketball standpoint, I would love to be at the most powerful conference in America," he said. (Associated Press story, Sept. 18, 2011)
"The whole scenario for me was uncomfortable, from the beginning. In my heart, from an integrity standpoint, I wasn't convinced it was the right thing to do, considering we were in a league and had made those commitments. I think Syracuse has had an approach that is fair and has tried to act with the kind of values that this institution is built on: honesty and integrity. So it's hard to me to say I was, from the start, comfortable with it."
-- Syracuse football coach Paul Pasqualoni on the possibility of SU leaving the Big East and joining the ACC (Boston Globe, Oct. 14, 2003)
"If you are going to keep that relationship with Syracuse and try to build that long-term rivalry, and build it with Pitt, that type of thing, then the only way evidently that would happen is if Connecticut went to the ACC."
-- UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni on the possibility of Connecticut leaving the Big East and joining the ACC (Big East football coaches conference call, Sept. 19, 2011)
"This has implications beyond the Big East. It has implications potentially for intercollegiate athletics as we know it. And I regret that these actions have caused us to have to take this final solution after all our deliberations, after all our investments and after all our trust as a fraternity."
-- UConn president Philip E. Austin during news conference at state Capitol after a lawsuit was filed against the ACC, Miami and Boston College (Hartford Courant, June 7, 2003)
A source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Monday night that UConn President Susan Herbst and Calhoun were working the phones to continue to drum up interest from within the ACC. According to the source, UConn is optimistic that interest is reciprocal but UConn officials have no idea about the ACC's timeline as to when it would decide if it would go to 16. (ESPN.com, Sept. 20, 2011)
"I'm sure everyone at Boston College thinks they made the right decision to play Southern schools. I think it's a gamble."
-- West Virginia president David Hardesty (Post-Gazette, Oct. 16, 2003)
West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck would not comment today as conference realignment and contraction rumors continued to surface. CBS Sports reported around noon on Twitter that "Multiple Big East sources said they have been told by WVU officials that WVU [was] rejected by ACC & SEC." (Post-Gazette, Sept. 20, 2011)
"I want to thank in particular John Marinatto, the current commissioner, who has provided tireless leadership for the conference."
-- Pitt's Nordenberg on the embattled Big East commissioner (ACC teleconference call, Sept. 18, 2011)
Marinatto said in a telephone interview that he planned to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to their 27-month contractual exit obligations, meaning that they would not be able to leave the Big East until June 2014. "We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before," Marinatto said, referring to the A.C.C.'s raid of three Big East teams in 2003. "We may even hold the opening round of our basketball tournament in Greensboro," a frequent site of the A.C.C. tournament, he said in jest. (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2011)
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.
The soon-to-be ex-Big East schools (Syracuse, Pitt, maybe UConn) were singing a different tune when other schools left for the ACC eight years ago.