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  Relatively few Hoyas reside in the Mountain State, and though country roads have been replaced by I-68 as the primary route from the District, the travel options between the two remain more limited and austere than those found along the Eastern Seaboard.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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April 26
L, 10-2
UMBC
Shirley Povich Field
RECAP
April 26
L, 2-1
George Mason
Fairfax, Va.
RECAP

Livestats
April 27
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 27
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 28
3:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 28
9:00 AM
St. Johns
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 28
4:00 PM
Seton Hall
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 28
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 28
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
2:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 29
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 29
2:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 29
9:00 AM
Semifinals
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 29
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Cooper Field
April 29
12:30 PM
Semifinals
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 29
1:00 PM
Florida
Gainesville, Fla.

Stats
Watch
April 29
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
All Day
America Trophy
Ithaca, N.Y.
April 30
1:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 30
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 30
9:00 AM
Championship
Cayce, S.C.

BEDN
Live Stats
April 30
12:30 PM
Championship
Cayce, S.C.

BEDN
Live Stats
April 30
All Day
America Trophy
Ithaca, N.Y.
April 30
All Day
Eastern Sprints
Worcester, Mass.
April 30
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
April 30
All Day
Class of 2006 Cup vs. North Carolina
Washington, D.C.
May 1
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
May 2
7:00 PM
George Washington
Shirley Povich Field
May 2
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
May 4
TBA
Semifinals
Providence, R.I.

CBSSN
May 4
TBA
Semifinals
Villanova, Pa.
May 5
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 5
All Day
Payton Jordan Invitatinoal
Palo Alto, Calif.
May 5
All Day
Kehoe Twilight Meet
College Park, Md.
May 5
All Day
Payton Jordan Invitational
Palo Alto, Calif.
May 5
All Day
Kehoe Twilight Meet
College Park, Md.
May 6
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 6
2:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 6
4:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 6
4:30 PM
Championship
Providence, R.I.

FS2
May 6
TBA
Championship
Villanova, Pa.
May 7
1:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 7
12:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 8
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 9
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 10
5:00 PM
Maryland Eastern Shore 7 innings
Shirley Povich Field
May 10
7:30 PM
Maryland Eastern Shore
Shirley Povich Field
May 10
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 12
7:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 12
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 12
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 12
All Day
Patriot League Championships
Camden, N.J.
May 13
7:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 13
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 13
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 14
1:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 14
All Day
Eastern Sprints
Worcester, Mass.

More Information
May 16
6:00 PM
UMBC
Baltimore, Md.
May 18
3:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 19
3:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 19
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 20
12:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 20
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 21
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 22
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 23
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 23
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 24
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 24
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 25
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 26
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 26
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 27
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 27
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 27
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 28
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 28
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 28
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 29
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 29
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 29
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 30
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 31
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 1
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 2
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 2
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 3
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.
June 3
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 4
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.
June 4
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 5
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.