My initial reaction to hearing the news? I didn't really care.
The Gavitt Tipoff Games just didn't register on my radar, I mean, Big Ten vs. Big East to start the college hoops season? In the name of Gavitt? Seriously, what connection, direct connection, does the founder of the Big East have to a league from the midwest?
Really, the only "conference challenge" that ever truly mattered was the short-lived ACC/Big East battles of the late '80's and early '90's. And if you think about it, why the hell don't those two conferences revive that challenge -- there is still some serious, real hatred between the two. The bloated ACC living on due to a Big-East-blood transfusion of Syracuse and Pittsburgh and Miami and Virginia Tech and Boston College. The Big East, meanwhile, has turned into a dazed boxer staggering around the ring, trying to convince the ref it's still able to fight. Talk about intrigue!
Rather, we'll get Big Ten vs. Big East -- Providence vs. Michigan State! I can't wai..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Oh, sorry, I dozed off just writing about that potential game. I'm sure, outside of Wisconsin (Badgers vs. Eagles!), most fans of those particular programs aren't that much more excited than I am here.
Sure, I will admit, I'll watch a lot, if not all, of the games each season. I love that this "challenge" will actually be the kickoff to year for these teams. Right out of the gate we'll get a few decent match ups, and, hell, basketball is basketball. Plus, I certainly applaud the idea of keeping Gavitt's name prevalent in college basketball. Obviously, without Gavitt, the face of hoops, specifically Syracuse's, would look much different. But I'm more than a little put off by the fact we have the 14-team Big Ten engaging the you-need-a-map-to-figure-it-out Big East.
This is a clear case of "heart is in the right place." Because I think we all know exactly what the Gavitt Tippoff Games should really be: Syracuse vs. Georgetown every damn season. Now that's an attention grabber! Hell, why not do a home-and-home each season? That would guarantee the Orange in D.C. and the Hoyas in the Carrier Dome. I know teams in college hoops don't play each other twice unless they're in the same conference, and even then it's all-too rare, but doing things differently would really be an ultimate tribute to Gavitt -- who, with help and a lot of luck, created the Big East sans blueprints.
Besides, how is Maryland vs. Creighton signifying anything of Dave Gavitt? Isn't that the exact antithesis of Gavitt's original goal? Hoyas vs. Orange, on the other hand, is what made the Big East, a major component of what made Gavitt's legacy. We'll never get what Gavitt helped form back, that Big East has long since been dead and buried well before SU jumped to the ACC, but there would be nothing more nostalgic than starting the season with SU and Georgetown back on the same court again. It's crazy we just went an entire season without it happening one time. Remember that 10-year series that was in the works between the two? Apparently its hit some road blocks. Yet, I'm willing to be the two sides could finally come together if approached with the idea of playing in honor of Dave Gavitt.
(Amazing, by the way, how time can change things even in the trivial world of sports. A year ago most of us were pining away for Hoyas and Orange, and now? It's all an afterthought.)
So if the Big East, desperate to stay relevant, wants to play the Big Ten, let them have at it. The Big Ten, always itself an attention seeker, wants in on the series, too? Fine by me. But do all of this without the cover of Gavitt. His is a legacy worthy of innovation, of sincerely passionate basketball, of Syracuse and Georgetown, of giving us basketball that truly matters.
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