I love ESPN's "30 for 30" series.
It's absolutely revolutionary and groundbreaking. It tells stories in such a way that I've never seen before. I can't get enough of it.
One film, though, has stuck in my craw since the day it came out. That film is, "Requiem For The Big East".
With Final Four weekend approaching and a member of the "new Big East" still alive, we thought it'd be fun to go back and give a funeral to the film that gave a funeral to the Big East.
I've never done a live-blog sort of thing before, but I will be tonight. So, join me at 8 p.m. ET as I watch "Requiem For The Big East" on Netflix, talk about what's wrong with it, and take jabs at the holier than thou attitudes presented.
Netflix gives time remaining instead of elapsed time, so the timestamps will be off by a couple seconds.
0:00:23: "Money is very important, but that's also the attitude of a helluva lot of people who are in jail." One of the few things I've always enjoyed about this documentary is the decision to open with this quote by John Thompson, Jr. It's stunningly accurate and really sets the tone for the entire thing.
0:01:00: I almost forgot we open on "the last real Big East tournament". Right off the bat, we're seeing what people thought. Look, it makes sense that people thought the conference would be in trouble, but the reports were so overexaggerated.
0:03:05: "The fact that we're sitting here at the last Big East tournament is beyond ridiculous". You're part of the problem, Mick Cronin. I feel like the coaches of the schools who left are incredibly sanctimonious and it's ridiculous.
0:05:32: I'm glad they talked about Dave Gavitt in this documentary, given that they neglect to mention UConn or any of the new schools. They really picked and chose their narrative, but I'm glad Gavitt got his due.
0:07:15: As much flack as we give to the old/new Big East debate around here, I'm certainly grateful for the old Big East. Imagine if it had never formed and the ECAC was still in existence. The NCAA breaking up the ECAC changed college basketball (for the better) forever.
0:09:27: To an extent, the formation of the "New Big East" and formation of the "Old Big East" were very similar. A group of schools with similar values looking for a great opportunity. "It was about markets", was the line of thinking for the original formation, so wouldn't it still be about markets to add Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Omaha?
0:12:30: Just as we're grateful to the "Old Big East", ESPN should be. That's why, really, it's such a shame that ESPN wants nothing to do with the conference now.
0:14:29: "Manley Field House is officially closed." is a quote that I'll always bring up whenever I can, because it's such a baller thing for John Thompson to have said, and it was a great way to ignite a rivalry. Say what you want about Syracuse, but it's nice that they still play Big East teams, whereas other schools who have departed refuse to do such.
0:16:52: "In the beginning, we were good teams with colorful coaches". Another quote about the beginnings of the Big East that could have been applied to the "new Big East". I'm sensing a theme.
0:18:19 Hey it's Jim Calhoun! I like to keep track of how often we see him because, again, UConn was hardly even glossed over in this documentary.
0:20:34: Things would have been a little different had Chris Mullin chose Duke over St. John's, eh?
0:21:45: Every Big East game remains nationally televised up to this day, so I have to wonder how many current coaches use that to their advantage.
0:24:32: Georgetown, an eventual national powerhouse, played North Carolina in the National Championship in the Big East's third season. Hmmm. Another national powerhouse has a chance to play North Carolina in the National Championship in the "new" Big East's third season.
0:27:08: "Football, who cares about football? There's no football around here." Oh, Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal, if only...
0:29:45: The ADs sticking to their guns about basketball over football ended up being a "death knell", I guess, but I'm glad they stuck to it.
0:31:30: There's a huge difference between the formation of the "old" Big East and the "new" Big East. All ten schools currently have more than adequate facilities, and those who may not have the best (DePaul), will be getting new ones in the next couple years.
0:33:00: The decision to put the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden on a yearly basis remains one of the best college athletic decisions in the 20th century, in my opinion.
0:37:32: Pearl Washington was the type of player the Big East was made for, as the documentary states. Brooklyn native was able to stay local and play his games on a huge stage.
0:42:00: Thinking about it, Dave Gavitt was the Vince McMahon of the Big East. It was his brainchild, he ran the show, and he commentated the games.
0:44:11: "Once you whine once, you're a whiner for life". You sure are, Jim Boeheim.
0:48:43: People said horrible racist things about Patrick Ewing and made signs about him, which is reprehensible. Not to mention it's stupid to give one of the best players in the world at the time extra incentive to play angry.
0:52:03: I really like all the Georgetown/Syracuse stuff and the stuff about the formation of the conference in this documentary. The first hour is very good. We're close to taking a turn to where it starts being bad, though.
0:58:09: If you think Big East refs are bad now, at least they've never ejected someone and then waved their ejection off seconds later like they did to Michael Graham in the 1984 Big East tournament. Jim Boeheim was irate about that, and is to this day.
1:00:00: Alright here we go. They'll talk about 1985 where the Big East had three Final Four teams, and then this starts to take a turn downward.
1:04:35: The Sweater Game is still one of the best games in college basketball history. I've watched it a few times, it never gets old.
1:12:44: 1985 was a blessing and a curse, to be honest. The best single-season for a conference ever lead to a ton of greed and gluttony for schools and the league alike.
1:20:11: 80 minutes in and we have our second Jim Calhoun sighting. Ridiculous.
1:22:36: Dave Gavitt leaving the Big East for the Boston Celtics ended up not being great for the conference. Mike Tranghese (who now works for the SEC, coincidentally), started to welcome football into the fold, which went against everything the conference stood for.
1:25:00: I don't want to sound hypocritical, because the situation the Big East currently has is great, but expansion really did do a number on the old league. When you're bringing schools like West Virginia and Miami into the fold, you're in trouble. Part of that is related to the state of college athletics in general, though, where college football is king. As you know, football ultimately "killed" the "old" Big East.
1:26:53: Tranghese was irate at how certain schools (who may or may not be located in Blacksburg, Miami, and Boston,) left the conference in the early 2000s, and it's tough to blame him.
1:28:23: Say what you want about the schools that left at the end of the day, but Syracuse leaving is, was, and always will be, absolute garbage. Syracuse went to the ACC so they could go 5-7 in football every season. Hope it's worth it.
So, here we are. You know the rest of the story. The Big East was left for dead. But, a funny thing happened. The Big East isn't dead. Quite the opposite, actually, the Big East has a team playing in the Final Four this week. The Big East has a pair of (likely) top 10 NBA Draft picks this season. The Big East is still on national television on a nightly basis. The Big East isn't bound to whatever the nation's football powerhouses decide to do.
So, continue to enjoy the ACC or American, schools that departed the Big East. We wish you the best of luck. Just know, though, when the same situation inevitably arises in a few years with regards to conference realignment, you don't get to come back. We're doing just fine without you.