In 2011, Michigan State took on North Carolina in the first ‘Carrier Classic’ in college basketball history.
The teams opened the season on Veteran’s Day on a real aircraft carrier that had been transformed into a hardwood court for the occasion. The stands were loaded with military personnel and President Obama was in attendance.
The game was so successful, both as a salute to our troops and as a visually remarkable way to open the season, that NCAA organizers decided to put together two ‘Carrier Classic’ games in 2012.
Double the aircraft carriers, double the fun, right?
After college basketball’s two aircraft carrier games to open the season on Veteran’s Day both ended at halftime due to condensation on the floor, those in charge were forced to go about reevaluating how they open the college basketball season. Obviously, games on aircraft carriers are unique, they are schematically and visually stunning, and all of the nation’s premier teams want to be scheduled in them to earn the massive television exposure.
However, Mark Hollis, Michigan State’s athletic director and a first-year member of the Men’s Basketball Committee has a different vision for the tip-off of the 2013 season.
Hollis is the man who came up with the idea for the ‘Carrier Classic’ games in the first place, which is why Michigan State was the first program to appear in the game, along with the iconic Tar Heels.
Now he is in talks with the folks down in Dallas for something a little crazier, and definitely far bigger. The following plans and talks are still in preliminary stages, but if we know Hollis, we know that he gets things done.
Next year on Veteran’s Day weekend, instead of two teams playing against each other on a massive boat, eight teams are going to play each other in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, the site of next year’s Final Four.
This does not sound very impressive, except for the fact that all eight teams will be playing at the same time.
So expansive is Cowboys Stadium, and so large is the overhanging video screen, that Hollis envisions four games taking place side-by-side-by-side-by-side, all at the same time.
“We’re going to squeeze everything into a three-hour time period,” Hollis said. “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.”
The idea is to simulate the games of early March, when the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend turns the entire sports world into total Madness.
Yes, it will be bizarre to see, for example, Duke taking on Wisconsin right next to the powder blue jerseys of North Carolina as they line up against Indiana.
Then again, few expected to see basketball played in a football stadium in the first place.
Now, the public is just going to have to wrap their minds around four basketball games played in a football stadium — all at the same time.
It looks like some things really are done bigger in Texas, and it looks like Hollis is on a mission to make the tournament of all tournaments a reality.
Quotes from Sports Illustrated were used in this report.
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