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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Will This ROAD Have Curves

Although it is basically ceremonial, it still will be exciting for the Pac-10 to become the Pac-12 officially on July 1st. 

It will be the first expansion of the Pac-10, since 1978, when it was then the Pac-8 and brought into the conference, two great universities, Arizona State and Arizona.

Of course the newcomers for 2011, will be Utah and Colorado, I would have preferred Texas and BYU, which will not happen for awhile, but at least with Colorado it brings in a nice new TV market in the Denver area.

While football will get the immediate attention, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the Pac-12 basketball teams will face on the road, when visiting the new schools and while it is the players that will make the difference, it might be fun now to take a look at the basketball arenas of the two schools.

For some reason, current Pac-10 teams have had very little experience playing on the road against Utah and Colorado as they never seem to have scheduled these two schools for pre-season games for whatever reason.

On paper, Colorado appears to have the best basketball team of the two new additions, but it does not have the best arena.

The Buffalos, play in the Coors Event Center, which first opened in 1979 and took on its name in 1990 when the Coors Brewing Company gave the school, $5,000,000 in what we call today a naming rights deal. The arena seats 11,000, has very little history to speak about and in my mind kind of fits in with the dull arenas we see in the Pac-10 today, outside of the new Matthew Knight Arena at Oregon. Of course we all know dull can change to sharp with a ongoing successful basketball program, something Colorado has lacked, but has a chance to change with the coaching of Tad Boyle, one of the rising stars of the coaching ranks in NCAA basketball.

On the other hand, history abounds in the Jon M. Huntsman Center, home arena of the Utah Utes. (By the way, Mr. Huntsman's son, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. just announced today he is running for President on the Republican Side, but please do not apply the Fairness Doctrine to Craw's Corner).

While the Utes who use to be pretty good in basketball, but have fallen on hard times as of late, they still will have the largest arena in the Pac-12, seating just over 15,000 people and it will always show good on TV, despite being built in 1969, it has retained a charming atmosphere for basketball.

The Jon M. Huntsman Center will forever be remember as the site of the 1979 NCAA championship game(yes they did not alway play the Final Four in these lousy dome stadiums) between Indiana State and Michigan State, featuring the great battle between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. 

A game which is still talked about today and still has the great distinction of having the largest TV audience ever to WATCH a college basketball game. (That is a record, which boggles the mind when you thing about it).

In addition, history also will tell you that the first performer ever to perform in the Huntsman Center was none other the great Bill Cosby, still great and still going strong today.

Both of these new/old arenas to the Pac-12 will neither  be scary to play in, nor will they be bad places to visit for opposing teams, I still wish I would be writing about Texas and BYU, but you know what? I not sure that any of the powers that be care, which is always fine with me.

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