The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Mark Hollis’ latest idea: Michigan State vs. USC in Greece

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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On the eve of the first-ever college basketball game on the deck of an aircraft carrier last month in San Diego, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis admitted people were already approaching him and asking what he'd do next.

At the time Hollis insisted the Veteran's Day spectacle aboard the USS Carl Vinson couldn't be topped, but it turns out the man Tom Izzo jokingly calls a "mad scientist" still has a few attention-grabbing event concepts bouncing around his head.

Hollis told the Lansing State Journal on Thursday that the new scheduling partnership between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten inspired him to concoct a few new ideas. Among those he mentioned:

• A basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the USC Trojans at Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, Greece, site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

• Basketball games at the Rose Bowl or Dodger Stadium, two famed Los Angeles-area stadiums that have never hosted hoops before.

• Two basketball games going on simultaneously at Ford Field in Detroit or another similar football stadium.

Hollis stressed that these ideas are still in their most preliminary stages, which explains why USC coach Kevin O'Neill hadn't heard anything about a potential matchup between the Trojans and Spartans in Greece. Reached via text on Friday, O'Neill said that as far as he knows, no talks have taken place yet between the two schools.

It would be easy to see the appeal of a USC-Michigan State clash in Athens, especially if the Trojans return to national relevance in basketball next season as expected. The potential visuals from that game could be almost as stunning as the sight of the San Diego skyline in the background of last month's North Carolina-Michigan State matchup. 

If it sounds farfetched that this could actually happen, consider Hollis' track record.

Long before he hatched the idea for the aircraft carrier game, he spearheaded holding a Michigan-Michigan State hockey match at Spartan Stadium in 2001 and a basketball game between Michigan State and Kentucky at cavernous Ford Field two years later. Setting up a basketball game at a white marble stadium reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek relic may be a tad more challenging, but don't bet against Hollis.

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