Skip to content

Do inter-league challenges mean anything?

Nov 29, 2012, 3:00 PM EST

laundry Getty Images

I’m not going to play coy and ask why we have these inter-league challenge series. It’s about money and television rights like everything else we have in college sports these days. For me, that ship of disillusionment sailed years ago.

But we, as consumers, have bought into the spectacle, providing the impetus for the TV and the money.

Do we honestly still care? Does an inter-league challenge mean anything any more?

There was a lot of cachet to the ACC/Big Ten challenge and the SEC/Big East invitational when they first started to appear on the schedule a few years back. These were long-established leagues with regional character. The basketball played by a conference like the Big Ten could be said to have a certain flavor, as could that played by the ACC. That began to erode even when the ACC brought in teams like Miami and Virginia Tech from one of the old-school Big East raids, but it will make even less sense when Maryland jumps to the Big Ten and the ACC brings in Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville. Quite aside from the fact that the Big East won’t be an appealing dance partner for the SEC any more, there’s hardly any bragging rights at stake with such a motley assemblage of league-hoppers in a new, passionless marriage.

At least the Big 12 and (then) Pac-10 canceled their series in 2011, sparing us the cognitive dissonance of watching a West Virginia/Colorado pairing this season.

These new leagues will be like seasons of The Real World or Big Brother. A bunch of cocky strangers chosen by a committee and thrown into a fancy house, with cameras trained on them in hopes they’ll do something interesting.

Athletic leagues are now little more than well-marketed corporations. Yamaha makes snowmobiles, semiconductors, stereo receivers, grand pianos and archery equipment. None of those things have anything to do with one another in the real world, other than the fact that the same company puts them in boxes, stamps a logo on them, and trades them for consumer dollars. There’s no meaning to their association beyond that. Sound familiar?

Will Maryland play Pitt in an upcoming ACC/Big Ten challenge? That would be like me asking neighbors from down the street to play flag football in my yard, and then declaring my family the winner because it was played on my grass.

I’d wager I love college basketball more than the next 1,000 people I’ll speak to (fellow CBT writers excluded), but conference pride is starting to feel hollow, meaningless and self-deluding. SEC fans crowed about the possibility of an all-SEC national title game in football this year (before that possibility faded), but would they have been so happy if it had been Mizzou vs. Texas A&M? or was the notion enticing because it was “old school” SEC teams in contention?  

I’ll continue to root for my favorite laundry (as Jerry Seinfeld pointedly tagged sports fandom) but I can’t bring myself to care much which stainless steel industrial washing machine it ends up in.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. Rebounding, foul shooting help No. 2 Duke make up for 19 turnovers in win over UConn

    Dec 19, 2014, 12:41 AM EST

    Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski

    Even with the win there are things Duke needs to improve upon, most notably the fact that they’ve committed 36 turnovers over the last two games.

  2. Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Duke, No. 6 Virginia move to 10-0

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Ryan Boatright, Tyus Jones Ryan Boatright, Tyus Jones

    Also of note was Ole Miss avoiding what would have been their fourth home loss of the season.

  3. Right foot injury to sideline Tennessee forward for at least one game

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:44 PM EST

    Steve Taylor Jr., Kevin Punter, Jabari McGhee AP

    Jabari McGhee suffered the injury in Tennessee’s loss to NC State on Wednesday.

  4. Michigan State starting forward to miss next two games with non-displaced wrist fracture

    Dec 18, 2014, 7:09 PM EST

    Branden Dawson, Brandon Nazione AP

    Branden Dawson is the team’s leading rebounder, as he’s grabbing 8.7 boards per contest.

  5. Minnesota adds 6-foot-9 freshman power forward to roster

    Dec 18, 2014, 5:59 PM EST

    Richard Pitino AP

    Gaston Diedhiou was denied admission to Minnesota during the summer, and he is now eligible immediately after passing an English proficiency exam.

  6. New Year’s Resolutions: San Diego State Aztecs

    Dec 18, 2014, 5:08 PM EST

    Steve Fisher AP

    While the focus has been on the Aztecs’ shooting percentages, their ability to find quality looks has been a big reason why they’ve struggled.

  7. Pregame Shootaround: Is Duke-UConn a rivalry?

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:45 PM EST

    brimah AP

    When do we start counting Duke-UConn as a rivalry?

  8. Louisville loses former top 100 big man to transfer

    Dec 18, 2014, 3:33 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Agau was buried on the Louisville bench with a number of young guys in front of him.

  9. Film Session: What’s plaguing Marcus Paige?

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:34 PM EST

    Marcus Paige (Getty Images) Marcus Paige (Getty Images)

    A deep look into the early-season struggles of Marcus Paige and whether or not they are fixable.

  10. Throwback Thursday: UConn ‘Shocks The World’ against Duke (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:48 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The last two times these teams have squared off in big games, the outcome has been memorable.

  11. New Year’s Resolutions: Virginia Cavaliers

    Dec 18, 2014, 10:53 AM EST

    Justin Anderson (AP Photo) Justin Anderson (AP Photo)

    Three-point shooting might be the key to the Virginia season.

  12. Lauren Hill’s playing career over, to become honorary coach

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:59 AM EST

    Lauren Hill AP

    She may not be playing anymore, but Lauren’s time with the basketball program has not yet come to an end.

  13. Cal Poly’s David Nwaba spins through traffic for a two-handed finish (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:45 AM EST

    Cal Poly Athletics Cal Poly Athletics

    David Nwaba scored 11 second-half points to help lead the Mustangs back from a 14-points halftime deficit. Here are two of those points.

  14. Cody Doolin’s late-game heroics push UNLV past Portland (VIDEO)

    Dec 18, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Will Cummings, Cody Doolin AP

    Doolin finished the game with 15 points, three assists and no turnovers, and made two huge plays to get UNLV the two-point win over Portland.

  15. American’s struggles makes Cincinnati’s win over San Diego State enormous

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:04 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This is the first win that the American has landed over a ranked team.

  16. Michigan State’s Branden Dawson suffers sprained left wrist in win over Eastern Michigan

    Dec 18, 2014, 12:00 AM EST

    Branden Dawson, Jalen Hayes, Matt Costello AP

    Dawson’s injury occurred on the same night that freshman Javon Bess made his regular season debut for the Spartans.

  17. Senior forward/center Erik Copes leaves George Mason program

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:33 PM EST

    Fordham v George Mason Fordham v George Mason

    Copes played in just four games this season due to injury.

  18. Green Bay with an off-the-glass alley-oop in a half court set (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:07 PM EST

    AP AP

    The best part is that it was very much intentional

  19. Late Night Snacks: Ralston Turner, Trevor Lacey lead NC State past Tennessee

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:20 PM EST

    Ralston Turner AP

    Delaware State’s Amere May scored more points than anyone in college basketball has this season.

  20. Already lacking front court depth, Siena loses starting forward to ankle injury

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:19 PM EST

    Lavon Long,Karachi Edo Lavon Long,Karachi Edo

    With Lavon Long and Brett Bisping now sidelined, the Saints are without their two best rebounders.