By TERRY LYONS, reporting from Madison Square Garden
NEW YORK – Oh, dear Big East, what say you today on this 27th day of June?
What say you on a day when the University of Connecticut Huskies rejoin the conference to which it once belonged and forever does belong?
What say you, oh, keepers of memories of Ray Allen (amongst the three greatest international, never mind USA Basketball, never mind college players I’ve ever seen shoot a basketball)?
What say you, oh, Donyell and Donny? Donyell who put up some 42 on my Johnnies one March day, if remember correctly (I refuse to look it up). Oh Donny, who I admired as a good, hard-nosed player but learned to admire even more when he was calling games for what used to be Comcast (now NBC Sports) in Boston.
Why? You ask? – Because he was very good at color commentary, and we will see him at Madison Square Garden next March, once again and also a year or more from now when, on the greatest of days, UConn will take the floor at The Garden to thunderous cheers from busloads upon busloads of the herd from CT.
No “booing” from the press box.
But that is a long time from now. What shall we think between today and that glorious day in March of 2021 (Please note the official news release states “the year of entry to be determined at a later date.”)
We will think of things that do not have any effect whatsoever on the men’s basketball or football programs at the soon-to-be BIG EAST school.
We will think of rivalries renewed.
We will think of a tennis player who will get back to campus early, maybe from a match at Providence or as far away as South Orange. That tennis player will get more rest and might be able to hit the books that night. A Seton Hall player will remain on campus after a trip to Bunny’s.
That is a good thing, because the tennis players will benefit from this BIG EAST decision.
People will focus on basketball and football. On Geno. On massive amounts of beer to be consumed on a Thursday in early March 2021. They will not think of that tennis player.
They will not think about baseball players renewing rivalries vs St. John’s or soccer at Georgetown and a trip to The Tombs.
They will not think of a future TV contract boosted by this news. They will talk about exit fees.
They will not talk about good things for the athletes and entire student body of kids in Storrs. They might or might not think of what an increased rivalry from one sport will do for the others. They just won’t.
Today,. we’ll ask some of these questions of the administrators of the University of Connecticut. We’ll ask tough questions, yes.
But. what will we hear in response?
Will it be a nonsensical statement like the non-denial denial they fed us last weekend, stating then, “Our responsibility to always be mindful of what is in the best interest of our student athletes, our fans and our future. With that being said, we have been and remain proud members of the American Athletic Conference.”
Was that statement responsible? Was it in the best interest of their student athletes, fans and their respective futures? Was it a transparent communication to their students, fans and future recruits (for football or any sport)?
We’ll hope to find out today at Noon at Madison Square Garden.
Welcome back Ray, and how about dinner at Dante’s?