Pittsburgh and West Virginia to renew series

Known simply as the Backyard Brawl, this set of non-conference matches will evoke certain memories when both schools were in the Big East

With West Virginia in the Big 12 and Pitt in the ACC, both schools decided on Thursday, September 29 to renew a once-hot rivalry.

The last times both schools locked horns was in 2011-2012.  Pittsburgh will host the Mountaineers in December 2017 and 2019, with West Virginia doing the favors come late 2018 and 2020.

Best to close this blog post with thoughts from both athletic directors, culled from NBCSports.com:

“We are extremely excited to announce the renewal of this great rivalry.  Coach Stallings and his staff did an outstanding job working with their counterparts at West Virginia to help make this happen. The Pitt-West Virginia games will serve as marquee non-conference matchups that will garner heavy interest in the area and on the national stage.”

Pittsburgh Athletic Director Scott Barnes


“One of my first goals as athletic director was to reach out to Scott Barnes about renewing the football and basketball series with Pitt because I knew it would be good for both schools.  I want to thank Scott and coach Stallings as well as [West Virginia] coach [Bob] Huggins and his staff for their efforts in getting the basketball series renewed. The fans are the real winners because whether the game is in the WVU Coliseum or the Petersen Events Center, it will be great for college basketball.”

West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons



George Washington hires new coach

Maurice Joseph will take over on an interim basis, after an investigation into allegations of former coach Mike Longeran committed verbal use to his players became true in recent weeks.

On a different front, the Zika virus moves the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic to Orlando

With the Zika virus still hanging in South America and the Caribbean Islands (which mostly scared some major athletes from attending the Rio Olympics this past August), ESPN Events announced on Monday that the annual Tip-Off Classic will give more time for the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando to host more games.

Usually, a whole slate of games takes place while most of America is feasting on turkey and football each Thanksgiving Day.  The same teams will play in Orlando on November 17 to 20 with the field involving Xavier, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa and Tulane.

DePaul does Northwestern a huge favor

With DePaul preparing to move to a nice downtown Chicago arena alongside Lake Shore Drive in November 2017, Northwestern will play their 2017-2018 season at Allstate Arena in nearby Rosemont.  This is due to the fact that 15 miles away, 53 year old Welsh-Ryan Arena on the Evanston campus will be getting a facelift and give modern-day conveniences to the fans and the media.

ESPN 24 Hour Tip-Off Marathon Schedule Mostly Announced

As announced on September 15, there is one rematch from last year in this mix with Alabama meeting up with Dayton.

Of course, everyone should know about the overnight start to accommodate the last night crowd in Hawaii and also the early risers in the Eastern part of the United States.

Rece Davis, Joey Galloway, Kirk Herbstreit and David Pollack will be on site during the 30 minute break in-between games at Madison Square Garden to release that week’s Top 25 in college football–the only major break for the ESPN family of networks for this being the ninth annual true Hoops Du Jour.

Thank goodness there is Jay Reynolds and SportsCenter All Night on ESPN Radio to keep me company.  Here is the list of games confirmed to date, with more announcements to come before Veteran’s Day.  The four-time defending women’s champions from Uconn will get things rolling, but the men won’t get going until late in prime time:

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Mon, Nov 14 6 p.m. No. 4 UConn at No. 15 Florida State (women) ESPN2
  8 p.m. No. 6 Texas at No. 10 Stanford (women) ESPN2
  10 p.m. Princeton at BYU ESPN2
Tue, Nov 15 Midnight San Diego State at Gonzaga ESPN2
  2 a.m. Wisconsin-Green Bay at Pacific ESPN2
  4:15 a.m. Florida Atlantic at Hawaii ESPN2
  6:30 a.m. Niagara at Hartford ESPN2
  8:45 a.m. Winthrop at Manhattan ESPN2
  11 a.m. Longwood at Stephen F. Austin ESPN2
  1:15 p.m. Dayton at Alabama ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. No. 10 Oregon at Baylor ESPN2
  7 p.m. State Farm Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden, New York): No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Michigan State ESPN
  9:30 p.m. State Farm Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden, New York): No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Kansas ESPN


Dates to apply are set for 2017 replacement site in East Regional

As reported by ESPN and other broadcast and media outlets on Tuesday, the NCAA has set a deadline of Tuesday, September 27 for interested venues to apply for the chance to host the First and Second Round games (a total of six contests) to take place on March 17 and 19, 2017.

A decision on that site, plus the six other affected sports which I talked about on Monday evening will be made final on Friday, October 7.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.


In other college hoops news since the Olympic flame was lit in Rio…

Miss me, everybody?  I missed most of you.

Sure hope everyone enjoyed the Summer Olympics, since I was busy blogging the highs and the lows during all 16 days emanating from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

At the very least, many Duke greats from Kyrie Irving and longtime coach Mike Kryzezewski delivered another expected gold medal for the United States.

On the ladies side, the familiar UConn tree of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, and the reigning four-time NCAA Player of the Year in Breanna Stewart dominated as Geno Auriemma guided the ladies to their sixth straight trip to the gold medal podium.

I enjoyed my blog vacation, but it is back to business as we are inside two months before the new season tips off on Veteran’s Day.

Some of the key headlines since early August that seem to be blog worthy include:

  • Joel Cornette of Butler fame died on August 16 at the tender age of 35.
  • Tommy Hamilton IV signed a letter of intent on that same day to suit up for Texas Tech after spending 92 games in playing the last three years for the DePaul Blue Demons.
  • On August 1, Florida and Belmont struck an impasse as far as reaching a decision on when to play their next game.  It was originally slated to take place in Jacksonville on November 11, but it might be relocating to Tampa since the O’Connell Center is undergoing renovations.
  • Marist replaces Albany on Duke’s schedule for November due to the highly controversial LGBT law (please see prior blog for more details).
  • Mike Bobinski, the longtime Athletic Director of Georgia Tech left to take over in a similar capacity for the retiring Morgan Burke at Purdue.  After a six month long nationwide search, Bobinski began his duties in West Lafayette on September 1.
  • Finally, the annual Armed Forces Classic scheduled for ESPN on Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 11 will take on very special meaning this year–since it is the 75th anniversary of the tragedy that took place at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  The doubleheader will feature newly minted Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State taking on Arizona and a classic matchup between two longtime classic powerhouses as Kansas will lock horns with Indiana at the University of Hawaii campus.  The games were originally scheduled to be held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
  • And yes, Missouri accepted the NCAA’s one year probation for various men’s basketball violations.

You are all up to date.  Look for my annual Season Preview the week of October 24.

Hope to see you all again before that time.  Please enjoy the rest of your evening.


NCAA to relocate seven Championship events out of North Carolina

Move stems from hugely controversial LGBT law, which includes relocating the East First and Second Round NCAA Tournament games that would have taken place March 17 and 19, 2017 in the Greensboro Coliseum

The news was first reported by ESPN at around 7:15 p.m. Eastern time on Monday evening.  In a press release, the NCAA’s Board of Governors stated that this decision came about:

“because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.  This decision is consistent with the NCAA’s long-standing core values of inclusion, student-athlete well-being and creating a culture of fairness.”

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, Chair of the Board of Governors

The law simply known as HB2, according to the Associated Press requires all transgender people to use restrooms in schools and government buildings that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates.  The law also excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from any local and statewide anti-discrimination protections.

Also relocating championships in other sports include the following:

— the Division I women’s soccer championship scheduled for Dec. 2 and 4 in Cary, just outside the capital city of Raleigh;

— the Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships set for Dec. 2 and 3 in Greensboro;

— the Division I women’s golf regional championships set for May 8-10 in Greenville;

— the Division III men’s and women’s tennis championships set for May 22-27 in Cary;

— the Division I women’s lacrosse championship set for May 26 and 28 in Cary;

— the Division II baseball championship from May 27 to June 3 in Cary.

Also in the press release, the NCAA pointed out five other states:  Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington — and several cities in those states prohibit travel by all public employees and representatives of public institutions to the state of North Carolina.  Those representatives that are also barred to travel to the Tar Heel state extends to athletes, cheerleaders, coaches and athletic administrators.

As far as which city will become the host state, NCAA President Mark Emmert originally mentioned on Monday night that a decision will not be made until early 2017.  (Small Update, as of Tuesday 9/13–the NCAA set a deadline for venues to submit their applications on Wednesday, September 27 and a replacement city will be named no earlier than Friday, October 7.)  This way, according to the Associated Press:  it will give each location adequate time for the governing body to review all responses to questionnaires which are required of prospective site hosts on how they can comply with the NCAA’s anti-discrimination measures.

If I had to place a guess on where the East First and Second Round venue could be to replace Greensboro, you can throw around familiar cities such as Providence, Boston, and maybe Miami since Brooklyn will be hosting the ACC conference post-season tournament for the next two years.  The Big Ten will also join in on the fun come early March 2018.

Even with the ACC football championship game threatening to move out of Charlotte this coming December, I surely hope and wish that the law somehow, somehow gets repealed.

Please keep in mind, this is not like the huge backlash that played out for all of the world to see in black and white when during the 1960’s in the American South, there were separate washrooms for white people and separate facilities for blacks.

Most older high school facilities have washrooms separated by a wall–so one might think it would be best to have the men take care of their business on one side and the women doll themselves up and get their cheerleader skirts buttoned up and their shirts zipped properly from the back on the other side of the wall.

Again folks, life is not that simple anymore and is very unfortunate that so many thousands of athletes, cheerleaders, staff, faculty, and alumni will be forced to take airplanes and rental cars instead of hopping in their home vehicles or their local bus depots just to take them from Durham, Chapel Hill, or Raleigh en route to Greensboro.