The End of the (Country) Road

Jan. 7, 2012

The End of the (Country) Road

Since the Big East’s founding more than three decades ago, the backbone of the conference has been positioned along – or closely parallel to – the I-95/Amtrak Northeast Corridor.  Georgetown, Villanova, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s , UConn, and Providence (and, once upon a time, Boston College) all fall within the Northeast megalopolis.  A substantial proportion of Georgetown’s student and alumni base also calls this stretch home, so it is not surprising that Georgetown fans naturally think of schools ‘up the road’ when they list the Hoyas’ regional rivals.

In reality, West Virginia University is the second closest Big East neighbor to Georgetown, a fact that is usually most apparent every other year, when hordes of Mountaineers invade the Verizon Center.  Relatively few Hoyas reside in the Mountain State, and though country roads have been replaced by I-68 as the primary route from the District, the travel options between the two remain more limited and austere than those found along the Eastern Seaboard.  For its part, WVU itself is more oriented toward its fellow Backyard Brawler to the north and fellow football schools to the south and west.

In a way, all of this is now moot, since the Mountaineers are seceding from the Big East and joining the Big 12.  We will never know if a truly established and recognized rivalry would have ever emerged.  Not that long ago, however, it looked like it just might happen.

Recall, for instance, 2008’s Instant Classic in Morgantown, which was not decided until fractions of a second before the final buzzer sounded.  Patrick Ewing Jr.’s game-winning rejection of Da’Sean Butler would go down as one of the most memorable blocks of the decade and perhaps the defining moment in the series up to this point.  Most of those in attendance at that game saw its climactic ending a bit differently, of course, and take it from me as someone who was there – they were not at all shy about expressing their opinion.  In fact, I briefly feared for the Hoyas’ safety – and my own – in the immediate aftermath of the disputed block/goaltend.  Where most venues would have only a thin yellow line of CSC Event Staff to prevent the situation from escalating, however, a squad of West Virginia state troopers quickly secured the court and maintained order.  Joint exercises with the Beijing police may be worth looking into.

That particular was the follow-up to another memorable meeting, a decisive Hoya victory in 2007 that was made famous by a confrontation between then-WVU head coach John Beilein and Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing Jr.  The former was thereafter dubbed “Grabby,” while the latter earned a special enmity from Mountaneer fans that only made “The Block” that much sweeter.  Throw in a classic showdown from the 1974-75 season that Derrick Jackson won for the Hoyas on an 18-footer with two seconds left for historical cred, and you had the potential for a real rivalry to evolve.

But though the two schools did combine for a hard-fought and hard-to-forget Big East Tournament Final in 2010, for the most part the meetings since Ewing Jr.’s block have been one-sided, predictable affairs.  The nadir came in March 2010, when the minds of Hoya Nation were focused not on the game, but on the health of team leader Austin Freeman, who had just been set home with an undisclosed illness.  I was there for that game as well, and the visceral, gut-wrenching feeling the hung in the air (for a Georgetown fan, anyway) was every bit the exact opposite of the jubilant delirium of 2008.

Georgetown and West Virginia have long been bound together by a particular song, the unofficial hymn of Mountaneers everywhere: “Country Roads, Take Me Home.”  WVU fans cherish it as the song they sing together at key moments, often after sporting events.  Georgetown fans know it as the work of Bill Danoff (I’68), who wrote the song before John Denver had ever stepped foot in the Mountain State. 

Nowadays, though, a different song feels more appropriate: The World Turned Upside Down.  It applies most fittingly to the dizzying – not to say nauseating – process of NCAA conference realignment.  It applies to a college basketball landscape in which Villanova and Pitt sit at 0-3 in the Big East, even as a team picked to finish tenth in the conference chugs along, leaving in its wake stunned supporters and opponents alike.  It certainly applies to whatever it was that West Virginia’s football team did to Clemson in the Orange Bowl; there’s a very good chance the Hoyas will hold the Mountaneer hoopsters to fewer points than the 70 WVU rung up in Miami this week.

The Country Road has come to an end.  It’s time to walk a new path and chart a new course.  Full speed ahead!

Dmitriy Zakharov (F’09, G’09)
Proud Member of Generation Ewing Jr.

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August 18
4:00 PM
West Virginia
Shaw Field

Fox Sports Go
August 18
5:00 PM
Towson
Towson, Md.
August 19
1:00 PM
Virginia
Shaw Field
August 20
1:00 PM
George Washington
Shaw Field

Fox Sports Go
August 24
7:00 PM
Delaware
Newark, Del.
August 25
5:00 PM
American
Washington, D.C.
August 25
2:00 PM
Davidson
Cooper Field
August 25
5:00 PM
Howard
Washington, D.C. (at American)
August 26
12:00 PM
Santa Clara
Washington, D.C. (at Howard)
August 26
5:00 PM
American
Washington, D.C. (at Howard)
August 27
1:00 PM
Loyola Maryland
Shaw Field
August 27
1:00 PM
Appalachian State
Cooper Field
August 28
1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Shaw Field
September 1
4:00 PM
Cal Poly
Shaw Field
September 1
8:00 PM
Stanford
Palo Alto, Calif.
September 1
12:30 PM
The Citadel
Arlington, Va. (The Pentagon)
September 1
2:00 PM
Rider
Cooper Field
September 2
10:30 AM
Columbia
Arlington, Va. (Ft. Myer)
September 2
3:30 PM
Army West Point
Arlington, Va. (Ft. Myer)
September 3
4:00 PM
San Jose State
San Jose, Calif.

Mountain West Network
September 3
1:00 PM
Lock Haven
Cooper Field
September 4
12:00 PM
UCLA
Shaw Field
September 8
4:00 PM
Saint Francis PA
Shaw Field
September 8
4:30 PM
Coppin State vs. Buffalo
McDonough Arena
September 8
7:00 PM
UMass-Lowell
Lowell, Mass.
September 8
7:00 PM
James Madison
McDonough Arena
September 8
All Day
Spiked Shoe Invitational
State College, Pa.
September 8
All Day
Spiked Shoe Invitational
State College, Pa.
September 9
6:00 PM
Campbell
Buies Creek, N.C.
September 9
7:00 PM
UConn
Storrs, Conn.
September 9
11:00 AM
Buffalo vs. James Madison
McDonough Arena
September 9
1:00 PM
Coppin State
McDonough Arena
September 9
4:30 PM
Coppin State vs. James Madison
McDonough Arena
September 9
7:00 PM
Buffalo
McDonough Arena
September 10
1:00 PM
Rutgers
Shaw Field
September 10
12:00 PM
Holy Cross
Worcester, Mass.
September 12
2:00 PM
District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
September 15
11:00 AM
Arkansas State
Houston, Texas
September 15
2:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Cooper Field
September 15
4:30 PM
Stephen F. Austin
Houston, Texas
September 15
TBA
Penn
Philadelphia, Pa.
September 15
TBA
Bedford Cup
College Park, Md.
September 16
1:00 PM
Marist
Cooper Field
September 16
7:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio

BEDN
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September 16
11:00 PM
Rice
Houston, Texas
September 16
TBA
Penn
Philadelphia, Pa.
September 16
TBA
Bedford Cup
College Park, Md.
September 17
1:00 PM
Towson
Baltimore, Md.
September 17
12:00 PM
Towson
Towson, Md.
September 17
TBA
Penn
Philadelphia, Pa.
September 17
TBA
Bedford Cup
College Park, Md.
September 18
All Day
The Memphis Intercollegiate Memphis
Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 19
All Day
The Memphis Intercollegiate Memphis
Colonial Country Club - Memphis, Tenn.
September 20
4:00 PM
Stony Brook
Shaw Field
September 20
2:00 PM
District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
September 22
3:30 PM
Blue & Gray Intrasquad Meet
McCarthy Pool
September 22
6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Norfolk, Va.
September 22
8:00 PM
Creighton
Omaha, Neb.
September 22
TBA
Joe Hunt Memorial
Annapolis, Md.
September 22
All Day
Battle at Beantown
Boston, Mass.
September 23
1:00 PM
Columbia
New York, N.Y.
September 23
4:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill.
September 23
TBA
Joe Hunt Memorial
Annapolis, Md.
September 24
1:00 PM
St. Johns
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
September 24
1:00 PM
Providence
Providence, R.I.

BEDN
September 24
1:00 PM
Longwood
Farmville, Va.
September 24
TBA
Joe Hunt Memorial
Annapolis, Md.
September 25
All Day
The Patriot Invitational George Mason
The Chantilly National Golf Club - Chantilly, Va.
September 26
All Day
The Patriot Invitational George Mason
The Chantilly National Golf Club - Chantilly, Va.
September 28
4:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill.

BEDN
Watch
September 29
2:00 PM
Temple
Cooper Field
September 29
5:00 PM
Potomac Relays diving
McCarthy Pool
September 29
5:00 PM
Potomac Relays swimming
Washington, D.C. (American University)
September 29
6:00 PM
Butler
McDonough Arena
September 29
All Day
Paul Short Run
Bethlehem, Pa.
September 29
All Day
Paul Short Run
Bethlehem, Pa.
September 30
2:00 PM
Harvard
RFK Stadium
September 30
1:00 PM
Marquette
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
September 30
1:00 PM
Delaware/St. Francis Pa.
Newark, Del.
September 30
6:00 PM
Xavier
McDonough Arena
October 1
1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Shaw Field
October 1
1:00 PM
LIU Brooklyn
Cooper Field
October 4
7:00 PM
Seton Hall
South Orange, N.J.
October 5
3:00 PM
Creighton
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 6
3:00 PM
Butler
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 6
2:00 PM
Liberty
Cooper Field
October 7
1:00 PM
Princeton
Princeton, N.J.
October 7
6:00 PM
Villanova
McDonough Arena
October 8
1:00 PM
Villanova
Villanova, Pa.
October 8
All Day
The Gridiron Classic Notre Dame
The Warren Golf Course - South Bend, Ind.
October 9
1:00 PM
Duke
Shaw Field
October 9
All Day
The Gridiron Classic Notre Dame
The Warren Golf Course - South Bend, Ind.
October 11
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
October 12
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 13
7:30 PM
Villanova
Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pa.)
October 13
6:00 PM
Providence
Providence, R.I.
October 13
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 13
All Day
Wisconsin Invitational
Madison, Wis.
October 14
12:30 PM
Lehigh
Bethlehem, Pa.
October 14
1:00 PM
Towson
McCarthy Pool
October 14
2:00 PM
DePaul
McDonough Arena
October 14
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 14
All Day
Pre-National Meet
Louisville, Ky.
October 15
1:00 PM
Providence
Providence, R.I.

BEDN
Watch
October 15
1:00 PM
Lehigh
Bethlehem, Pa.
October 15
2:00 PM
Marquette
McDonough Arena
October 15
TBA
ITA Regionals
Blacksburg, Va.
October 16
All Day
The Georgetown Intercollegiate
Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
October 17
7:00 PM
Maryland
College Park, Md.
October 17
All Day
The Georgetown Intercollegiate
Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
October 19
3:00 PM
Marquette
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 19
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 20
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 21
2:00 PM
Fordham Parents Weekend
Cooper Field
October 21
1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 21
12:00 PM
Uconn
Storrs, Conn.
October 21
7:00 PM
Villanova
Villanova, Pa.
October 21
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 22
1:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.

BEDN
Watch
October 22
12:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Fairfield, Conn.
October 22
TBA
ITA Regionals
Lynchburg, Va.
October 22
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 23
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 24
All Day
The ODU/OBX Intercollegiate Old Dominion
Kilmarlic Golf Club - Powells Point, N.C.
October 25
2:00 PM
Providence
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 26
2:00 PM
Xavier
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
October 27
2:00 PM
Villanova
Cooper Field
October 27
7:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
October 28
1:00 PM
Holy Cross
Worcester, Mass.
October 28
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.

BEDN
Watch
October 28
11:00 AM
Davidson
Davidson, N.C.
October 28
All Day
BIG EAST Championships
Kenosha, Wis.
October 28
All Day
BIG EAST Championships
Kenosha, Wis.
October 29
1:00 PM
La Salle
Cooper Field
October 29
2:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
November 1
2:00 PM
Creighton
Shaw Field

BEDN
Watch
November 3
4:00 PM
Rutgers/Pittsburgh/Seton Hall/Villanova
New Brunswick, N.J.
November 3
6:00 PM
St. Johns
McDonough Arena
November 3
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 3
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 4
2:00 PM
Lafayette Homecoming
Cooper Field
November 4
10:00 AM
Rutgers/Pittsburgh/Seton Hall/Villanova
New Brunswick, N.J.
November 4
6:00 PM
Seton Hall
McDonough Arena
November 4
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 4
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 5
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 5
TBA
Jack Kramer Invitational
Palos Verdes, Calif.
November 10
6:00 PM
Marquette
Milwuakee, Wis.
November 10
All Day
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Championships
Bethlehem, Pa.
November 10
All Day
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Championships
Bethlehem, Pa.
November 11
12:00 PM
Bucknell
Lewisburg, Pa.
November 12
2:00 PM
DePaul
Chicago, Ill.
November 14
7:00 PM
Howard
McDonough Arena