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Georgetown and Syracuse's rekindling should provide a lesson

With the news that Georgetown and Syracuse are reuniting for a four-year home-and-home series, not only does it give us back one of college basketball's best rivalries, it should also serve as a door opener for others to (hopefully) follow suit. As history reminds us though, that may not be so easy.

Al Bello

Hey, Missouri.

Hey, Kansas.

Hey, Texas.

Hey, Texas A&M.

Did you hear the news that came out last Tuesday?

In case you didn't, here's what happened: Georgetown and Syracuse decided to let bygones be bygones and renew their college basketball rivalry. The schools will be playing a four-year home-and-home series beginning in the 2015-16 season. The Hoyas will host the Orange that season as well as the 2017-18 season, and the rivalry ships up north to upstate New York where the two teams will collide in the Carrier Dome in 2016-17 and 2018-19.

Georgetown's athletic director Lee Reed said in a press release regarding the rivalry's rebirth, "We're excited to announce the renewal of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry. The re-establishment of this series is good for college basketball fans across the country. I know that our program and fans will be excited to have a game against Syracuse on our schedule. This is something that both schools have worked very hard to have happen, and we're very happy to have this series continue."


Syracuse's athletic director added his own thoughts on the matter. "When Syracuse and Georgetown go head-to-head, the history is unmatched and the entire nation pays attention. Clearly our move to the ACC has been tremendous on all fronts, but sometimes you can have the best of both worlds -- and this series fits that concept."

Imagine that.

Two schools that were bound by history and separated by conference realignment worked together to give the college basketball world -- and fans -- something that they deserve. Two schools that have as much bad blood between them as any rivalry to date, enough to have a full-length documentary almost entirely centered around it, worked and came together to provide an outstanding resolution.

Wait a minute. This isn't part of the script.

When rivalries are severed by conference realignment, there's as much animosity as perceived on the court as there is off, with athletic directors and universities distancing themselves as far away from each other as possible. It's almost akin to a bad break-up by immature pre-adolescents.

For example, let's head to the Midwest. Kansas and Missouri decided to shut down the Border Showdown (or War, as some still deem it) after the Tigers moved to the Southeastern Conference following the 2011-12 season. That news though was announced in the fall, so both sides certainly had time to hash things out. While that storyline was plugging its way through the college basketball season, the two teams proceeded to produce two of the most memorable college basketball games of that season. I would know. I was at the game in Columbia.

That atmosphere, on that cold night in February, the night before Super Bowl XLVI, was only triumphed by Missouri's spectacular victory over Oklahoma on its 99th edition of Homecoming on a personal level. It was unbelievable. It wasn't my first go-around as I experienced the rivalry first hand the year before. But Kansas kept that game in hands, and the only memory I truly have from that experience was camping out in the frigid weather. Those that were there with me would know that it was a brutal night on top of that hill outside Mizzou Arena.

Mizzou would win that game, coming from behind after a stellar showing from the unconscious play from shooting guard Marcus Denmon. The next time these two teams played, well, we'll get to that later.

The two teams were set to meet a third time in the Big XII Championship Game in Kansas City later that year. But Baylor had other ideas, and gone was the chance of a rubber match.

The rest was history. Literally.

Since the spring of 2012, nothing's happened. And the hatred still runs deep between both sides, make no mistake about it. Gary Pinkel, the head coach of the Tiger football team, was recently quoted as saying, "There's some pouting going on still" on the Jayhawk side. Athletic Director Mike Alden echoed those sentiments, and added, "They [Kansas] know we'd love to do it."

Kansas, meanwhile, has remained silent since their border rival headed to the SEC. Dormant might be the proper term. Head basketball coach Bill Self hasn't ever seemed to waver from his stance in 2011 that he would not commit to scheduling games against Missouri.

Come on.

Now, I've never been to Austin or College Station. But from the outside looking in, Texas-Texas A&M seems like a rivalry that is steeped in both hatred and in tradition. Just like Mizzou-Kansas, and just like Syracuse and Georgetown.

Texas athletic director Steve Patterson agreed with that, when he recently made comments regarding their in-state rivalry. The Aggies -- much like the Tigers -- moved to the SEC the very same year. And just like Kansas, the Big XII member of this rivalry still seems to have a sour taste in their mouths.

"There's a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don't know. It's not at the top of my list. I'm really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department," Patterson said on April 1.

There was no fooling with Patterson's stance. He, however, may be a fool in this regard.

So might Kansas. And so might all other officials involved in these processes, no matter the school.

Look, Georgetown and Syracuse do not share borders or states like those four schools do. Their hatred for each other may not be stemmed over hundreds of years, some even rooting back to the Civil War days. But what Georgetown and Syracuse did share with these rivalries was a dividing of ties with a conference. The Orange left the Big East Conference for their new Atlantic Coast Conference pastures while the Hoyas stayed content with remaining under the 'Big East' banner.

But there were no sour grapes. There was no immaturity. And apparently, there was one critical thought in mind while these negotiations waged on: keeping the fans of college basketball happy.

It's true that Texas and Texas A&M don't set the world on fire on the basketball court. Their hatred was spilled out on the gridiron, usually the night after Thanksgiving.  And yes, the Missouri-Kansas rivalry is a little one-sided on the gridiron, and on the basketball court, too. Remember what happened the last time Mizzou went to Phog Allen Fieldhouse? Don't click that link, Mizzou readers. You don't want to.

But what keeps those fans engaged is that rivalry.

Kansas hates Missouri.

Missouri hates Kansas.

Aggie fans despise Longhorn fans. And vice versa.

Heck, have you heard the first verse of "Texas Fight?" Texas A&M is referenced, and not in a polite manner either.

The beautiful thing about sports sometimes is how it unites communities, towns, cities, states and countries. And while rivalries can unfortunately result in ugliness sometimes, few events can bring as much entertainment as a game between Michigan and Ohio State, the Yankees and the Red Sox, Duke and North Carolina, the Packers and the Bears, and the Blackhawks and Red Wings.

And at one time, Kansas going toe-to-toe with Missouri, and Texas facing off with Texas A&M.

Nobody wins in these situations. The athletes lose. The stubborn university hierarchies lose. And most of all, the fans lose. A lot.

So hopefully the news that Georgetown and Syracuse decided that it was best for everyone to rekindle their rivalry didn't fall on deaf ears last week. Unfortunately, as this script continues to play out, asking for that may just be a bit too much. And that's a damn shame.