Whether it's basketball games in football stadiums, on military bases or on the deck of an aircraft carrier, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis has developed a reputation as college basketball's mad scientist.
Hollis told SI.com he intends to hold an eight-team event at Cowboys Stadium on Veterans Day weekend with four games tipping off 15 minutes apart and going on side-by-side in the cavernous facility. The idea would be to simulate the excitement of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, only with all the action taking place under one roof.
"We're going to squeeze everything into a three-hour time period," Hollis told SI.com. "We're talking with eight institutions right now that have a very high interest and have that weekend open, and we're going to partner with the 12 [military] bases that are around Dallas, so we can make it a celebration for the guys at Fort Hood and others."
There are certainly some good aspects to this proposal. Any event that generates buzz for college basketball's opening day is a positive, as is the idea of holding marquee games at the same venue to maximize media exposure.
But four games played simultaneously at the same site? That's gimmicky and chaotic at best and reminiscent of a summer AAU tournament at worst.
What traditionally has robbed college basketball of the opening day buzz other sports have isn't that there weren't enough games on boats, stadiums or other exotic sites. It's that the matchups weren't any good. The sport would start with a trickle of irrelevant games rather than launching with the high-profile programs facing one-another.
Instead of more Veteran's Day weekend gimmicks, what the sport really needs is better Veteran's Day weekend matchups.
Have the previous season's Final Four teams open the season by facing one-another at the site of the next Final Four. Take Hollis' idea for Cowboys stadium, but space the games more logically so that whistles from one game aren't a distraction for the others. Heck, give back to the military by playing four marquee games indoors in airplane hangars on four U.S. military bases.
Gimmicks can bring attention to college basketball occasionally — certainly the first game on an aircraft carrier was a spectacle and holding one a year in the afternoon in a warm weather city is tolerable. But what will bring fans and TV viewers in year after year is an improved product and matchups featuring elite teams.
- Sports & Recreation
- college basketball