College Basketball

Carrier Classic II: Florida, Georgetown Join Fleet of Boat Games

CORONADO, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Adreian Payne #5 of the Michigan State Spartans tips the ball from John Henson #31 of the North Carolina Tar Heels to start the game during the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic on board the USS Carl Vinson on November 11, 2011 in Coronado, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Scott HenryFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2012

The want ad might read like this:

"AIRCRAFT CARRIER FOR RENT. Seeking two basketball teams to stage game in new and unique venue only used once before. Rates negotiable. Reply to Secretary of Navy, Arlington, VA."

The second annual Carrier Classic follows last year's wildly successful matchup between Michigan State and North Carolina with a meeting between Georgetown and Florida.

According to ESPN's Andy Katz, the Hoyas and Gators will play off the coast of Jacksonville on next season's opening day, November 9. There's just one drawback.

The Carrier Classic shares its date with games pitting Marquette against Ohio State and Syracuse against San Diego State. These games will also take place on the decks of naval vessels off the coasts of Charleston and San Diego, respectively.

Katz's ESPN colleague Eamonn Brennan alludes to the possible backlash from parties concerned about the exploitation of patriotism for financial gain. Unfortunately, to coin a pun, that ship sailed long ago, once Memorial Day and Fourth of July sales became common.

The original Carrier Classic, staged on Veterans' Day 2011, served not only as a unique and picturesque venue for a basketball game, it was also a show of support for the United States military, and perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the invited athletes and coaches.

Each of these games carries similar advantages, but do three in one day really detract from the novelty of aircraft carrier events?

The boat games are not yet on the schedules of specific TV networks, but make no mistake, these are made-for-TV spectacles. They're games giving fans the kind of marquee early-season matchups that they clamor for, while satisfying major college programs' desires to never again play on a dangerous opponent's home court.

It's not very different from John Calipari refusing to play Indiana if he can't have it at Lucas Oil Stadium, except the sun setting over the USS Midway will lend itself to more breathtaking visuals than it would through the Luke's giant picture window.

Eventually, the novelty wears off everything. It happens, especially, when a new concept proves to be a moneymaker, and the copycats come barreling out of the woodwork.

What we get is three great games that will look interesting on TV and offer heat checks on six potential top-25 teams. They should make for great viewing on the season's eagerly anticipated kickoff day.

We can save the backlash for when Calipari tries to put a game against Presbyterian or North Carolina A&T on a boat, attempting to pass it off as one of his vaunted "experiences."

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