Week Sauce

I’m sure you all noticed that it’s Rivalry Week for ESPN’s college hoops coverage. Otherwise known in Bristol as “whichever week Duke is playing UNC” regardless of which other major rivals happen to be facing off that week. Rivalry Week is just one of ESPN’s made-up “theme weeks” to try and suggest that their broadcast schedule follows some sort of coherent design — and to give them an opportunity to sell sponsorship. The current Rivalry Week, for instance, is brought to you by Crisco Cisco. Other weeks include Feast Week, Holiday Hoops Week, Conference Tip-Off Week, Bracket Buster Week, Judgment Week, and of course Championship Week. And added to the slate this year we had ESPNU Campus Connection Week.

But that’s only eight weeks, and the basketball regular season is four months long. What about all those other lonely weeks? Just think how much more business ESPN could do if they came up with a few more themes to fill out the season. We have a couple ideas to get them started; please feel free to help out in the comments.

Weak Week: one week full of games between the bottom-feeders of the major conferences. Rutgers-DePaul. Iowa-Penn St. Colorado-Nebraska. Any game from the Pac-10. Have the week be sponsored by Febreze. I read somewhere that, if your conference has a broadcast deal with ESPN, they are required to show each team in action at least once a season. With Weak Week, they can knock a lot of those teams off their list in one swoop, leaving more time for good matchups later on.

Announcer Alumni Week: match up the former schools of ESPN’s college hoops analysts, and force the talking heads to battle it out in studio. Have Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis go three rounds during halftime of Duke-UNC. Have Steve Lavin take on Bob Knight in a UFC octagon following Indiana-UCLA. (My money is on Knight, especially if there is a chair available.) Air a Providence-Vermont matchup and let Doris Burke beat the crap out of Tom Brennan. Or broadcast an Oklahoma State-Notre Dame game and have Doug Gottlieb kick his own ass, Fight Club style. This would be ratings GOLD. Sponsored by Everlast.

Punishment Week: have Dick Vitale call at least one game a night, every night. Punishment for him, maybe. Punishment for the rest of us, definitely. Sponsored by Excedrin. Or possibly Head-On.

Hard Times Week: match up coaches that used to run top programs but are now scraping along at low-level jobs. Matt Doherty (Southern Methodist) and Steve Fisher (San Diego State) come to mind. You might also throw in Florida Atlantic’s Mike Jarvis (aka “The Angriest Man In College Basketball”), Rick Majerus at St. Louis, and Bobby Cremins at College of Charleston. And definitely include Isaiah Thomas, who is still roaming the sidelines at Florida International. Sponsored by Monster.com.

PS. While looking up coaches for that paragraph, I discovered that the head coach at Montana is named Wayne Tinkle. For serious.

Cupcake Week: Show some early-season games like Syracuse - Albany, Duke - Coastal Carolina, Kansas - Alcorn St. These games are, at a minimum, always good for a few ridiculous dunks. And you never know — you might strike gold and have the nation tuned in, at least for the last few minutes, to see Georgetown lose to Old Dominion. Or Boston College lose to Harvard. Or Kentucky lose to Gardner-Webb. Or Kentucky lose to VMI. Or Kentucky lose to… well, you get the picture. Plus: walk-ons lofting threes makes for riveting television. Sponsored by Duncan Hines.

Any more ideas? Speak up people, ESPN needs our help!

(Wayne Tinkle appears courtesy of Flomax.)


  1. Posted February 11, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Wayne Tinkle is my new favorite coach - sorry JB, you’ve been bumped by a tinkle.

    I forgot Mike Jarvis was coaching again - great call there.

  2. Cuse Fan in CT
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Not to get all “Accurate” on you, but ESPN works with the conferences and schools themselves over the summer to get “rivalry” matchups for this week… Cuse-UConn has been the 7pm game to the 9pm UConn-Duke game like 3 years running… Texas/Kansas is a real rivalry; That was on Big Monday.

    Sure some aren’t “natural rivals” like WVU-Nova this year, but they’re just 2 GOOD TEAMS from the same conference meeting that week and what’s wrong with that?

  3. Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    I admit I was being a little hard on them. Looking at the games so far this week, I’d only list three of them as real rivalries. I mean true, runs-in-the-blood rivalries. SU-Conn, UNC-Duke, and Tenn-Vandy (at least from Vandy’s perspective).

    Other than those three, neither WVU-Nova nor St Johns-Louisville is really a rivalry by any stretch. And Texas/KU is only a ‘rivalry’ in the sense that they are rivals for the Big 12 crown. KU’s major rivals are K-State and Missouri. Texas generally lists Oklahoma as their main rival. Similarly with Purdue-MSU. Both are tops in the Big 10 this year but MSU’s main rival is Michigan, and Purdue’s is Indiana.

    However, I hadn’t looked to see what was on tap for the rest of the week. Looking ahead to the matchups Friday and Saturday, there are some classic rivalry battles. WVU-Pitt, Tenn-UK, OkSt-OU, just to name a few.

    Anyway, the point was not so much to pick on Rivalry Week per se — just the general concept of theme weeks. And I realize that ESPN has some say in the scheduling. In fact, it’s crucial that they do in order to set up some of the scenarios I’ve described. Only the Worldwide Leader has the pull to set up a primetime UCLA-Indiana matchup, opening the door for the Bob Knight vs. Steve Lavin deathmatch.

  4. Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    Rush - I feel that “bumped by a tinkle” is a phrase that needs to be used far more often in daily discourse. Or perhaps as the title of a scat porn.

  5. Posted February 12, 2010 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    Dude: Violations Week! I would watch every moment of something like this. Plus we’d have a guarantee of a different and varying lineup each year. For now, who wouldn’t want to see:

    Memphis vs. Florida State
    USC vs Arizona (in-Conference!)
    Binghampton vs St. Bonaventure (bracket-buster!)

    Plus you could have a Coaches Special match-up. Just have John Calipari’s current team play Kelvin Sampson’s, where ever the hell he is.

  6. Jer
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I would like to see Mascot Week. ESPN already shows that they love college mascots with their heavy placement in ESPN commercials. For example, we have:

    Wildcats (Nova) vs. Wildcats (Kentucky)
    Blue Devils (Duke) vs. Sun Devils (Arizona State)
    Fighting Irish (Notre Dame) vs. Fighting Illini (Illinois)
    Jayhawks (Kansas) vs Cardinals (Louisville)
    Cowboys (Ok St) vs Seminoles (Fl St)
    Orange (Cuse) vs Red (Cornell)

    The list goes on…

  7. Posted February 12, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    A Jayhawk is not a real bird! It’s a completely made up animal! The world doesn’t seem to realize this, but it’s my mission to let them know. In a theme week like this, Kansas should play the Hoyas or some other made up shit like that.

    Otherwise a brilliant idea though. :)

    Also, Gonzaga should play Nottingham.

  8. MrPlow99
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Tommy Amaker the coach for Harvard? He definitely fits on the Hard Times list.

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