Bring Back the ACC/
Big East Challenge
Give the people what they
In this downtime
before the start of another basketball season, college football has done a
lot to make sure that there are no boring weekends during the fall. The
fans, plays, and bands among other things, give us college sports fans ample
opportunities to release energy held inside during the work week. But this
fall has also given us the annoying tendency of analysts to bring up the
ACC/ Big East conference shift over…and over…I think you all get the point.
Remember the days of the late 80s and early 90s, when the two leagues would
meet in the ACC/ Big East Challenge? Those games over the course of two or
three days would give basketball fans across America, not just those on the
East Coast, hard-nosed hoops played at a skill level nearly as high as a
Final Four game. So in this era of lawsuits and name-calling, why not get
the two leagues back together to settle the bragging rights once and for
all. Below is an open letter to the commissioners of the two leagues, Mike
Tranghese (Big East) and John Swofford (ACC).
Tranghese and Swofford,
is Raphielle Johnson, and I write this letter to you on behalf of the
majority of college basketball fans throughout America. The last year has
given us all a crash course in the new landscape which is college athletics.
Cases such as Maurice Clarett, Mike Williams, and even more underclassmen
leaving school for the NBA have littered the headlines in the past year. But
the most significant event was the realignment of your two conferences.
Miami, Virginia Tech and
Boston College (starting in 2005 for the Eagles) have packed their bags in
hopes of making the Atlantic Coast Conference
the best football league in America. In response,
Big East members filed lawsuits, both
leagues engaged in a war of words, and five
Conference USA schools hopped on board the Big East wagon for next
season (Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, and South Florida).
Everything financially has been finalized, but the equally important
bragging rights are still up for grabs.
This is why I write you
both today, in hopes of bringing back the ACC/ Big East Challenge. Yes, Mr.
Swofford, you already play the Big Ten in a similar scenario, but has the
Big Ten ever won a challenge? I don’t recall a year when they did. Plus, how
many years have we been “blessed” with Florida State/ Northwestern and Penn
State/ Clemson on the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge docket? Too many if you ask me.
Just looking at the Big East and Big Ten would show anyone with some sort of
common sense which league would be more of a challenge for you on the
Just imagine Connecticut
playing Maryland, where Gary Williams may still blow a gasket if you bring
up the recruitment of Rudy Gay. How about sending Cincinnati down to Cameron
Indoor Stadium to play the Dookies? Huggins and Krzyzewski battling it out
would be a treat for us all. And on the low end of the spectrum, you could
send Clemson to the Garden to play St. John’s, given the TV ratings
potential of the New York metropolitan area. You’ve already made even
further strides in recruiting the entire East Coast, both by name and by
getting the Boston market, so why not get into even more living rooms with
As for you, Mr. Tranghese,
this would be the perfect opportunity to get some of the proverbial pie off
of your face, given the way that the conference shakedown went for you. You
had a tough go of it last summer, but the ACC/ Big East Challenge would give
you and your league members a shot at redemption. South Florida was added to
keep a foot in Florida (football recruiting, so it makes sense), so why not
let them head down to Miami to play the Hurricanes? It would make for some
interesting, if not high quality, basketball. And Marquette, DePaul, and
Louisville could most definitely hold their own with the likes of North
Carolina, Wake Forest, and N.C. State.
You added the new
membership with the priority of making the Big East the best basketball
league in America, so why hold back? Challenge the conference that most
experts seem to anoint the best year in and year out, and then this all can
be settled on the court, not at a water cooler. I know it doesn’t make much
sense given the last two national champions hail from the Big East, but the
ACC is a deeper hoops league right now.
I’ve given you each the
fan’s reason as to why this challenge should be revived, but here’s the
“dollars and cents” of it: your leagues would both stand to profit from
this. You think that ESPN wouldn’t readily throw bags of money on the table
to have the broadcasting right to this cornucopia of baskets? You’d be a
fool not to take advantage of this potential cash cow.
Mr. Swofford, just look
at the Big Ten right now. Indiana…down, despite the top recruiting classes.
Purdue…down as well. Michigan’s back on the rise and Michigan State still
needs a point guard. Illinois is the class of the league, and after the
Illini, I don’t know who else would help the Big Ten win three games in the
ACC/ Big Ten Challenge this year. In these made-for-television events, it’s
only a matter of time before the powers that be (the networks) decide that
this is not worth their time or money.
Mr. Tranghese, why not
put the media markets of New York, Newark (Seton Hall/ Rutgers), and
Washington, D.C. (Georgetown) to god use? You’ll have Chicago (DePaul) and
Milwaukee (Marquette) at your disposal next season as well. In the words of
Charles Barkley, “anything less would be uncivilized”. So to both of you, I
leave this quote from an NFL Films show I watched a long time ago:
“You can get it done.
You can get it done. What’s more, you gotta get it done.”
I’d like to thank you
both for your time, and hopefully you will bring this issue up at your
league meetings in the near future. There may be hard feelings, but what
does standing in your separate corners of the room do for the situation?
Shake hands, and give the people what they want while filling your pockets.
Isn’t that the point of college athletics anyway? That one’s for another day
and time, just get this done. Thanks.
P.S.: If this happens,
scheduling UConn to play Boston College would be interesting. Just don’t
tell Coach Calhoun about it ahead of time…might be a bad idea.