Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Max Capital City Classic: or what do with a rivalry

 

Tuesday marks the Inaugural Max Capital City Classic for Auburn and Alabama. It also brings up an interesting predicament about what to do with Baseball, College Sports, and Rivalries.

How do you appease boosters and alumni and fans of both schools? Baseball is different from most college sports. In basketball you play 2 games (easy to do, play one there, one here), Football you play 1 (and rotate it), but in Baseball you play 3 games in a series. So, you can do a couple of things that can appease both fans, boosters, and alumni, while still keeping the rivalry (and in some cases, helping the rivalry). First, Auburn and Alabama are in an interesting situation. They are one of only two sets of school to have an in-state rival built in to the conference (The Mississippi schools are the other). Yes, I know Vandy/UT are both in the same state, but are you really going to include that? Fine. Fine. AU/UA, UM/MSU, and UT/VU are 3 sets of schools that have built in, in-state, Conference Rivals.

So what can you do?

Well you have a couple of options.

Split the Series

If your rival is in-conference you can always play 1 game here and 2 games there and then swap that format the next year. That’s what Texas and Texas A&M do, as do Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan plays a game Friday in East Lansing, travels back to Ann Arbor for Saturday, before finishing Sunday back at the State campus. This year Texas plays one game in College Station (home to the Aggies) and then two games in Austin. They also do this with Baylor (one game in Austin, 2 in Waco). Other schools that do this are Kansas/K-State, and UCLA/Cal-St Fullerton do this even though they aren’t in the same conference.

Also, Clemson and South Carolina do this to an extent. However, they add an extra game so that both teams play 2 games at either teams school.

Ignore it all together.

This is what Auburn and Alabama used to do. Other schools like VaTech/UVA , UT/Vandy, and Miami/FSU still do this.

Play a game a neutral site, and count it.

Florida State/Florida play a game each on campus and then a game in Jacksonville.

UGA/Ga Tech do the same thing, with the third game in  Turner Field.

Play them all somewhere else.

Oklahoma/Ok State play two games in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa.

Oregon and Oregon State play 1 game in Eugene (home of UO) and two in Portland (home to neither team.)

Or, Keep the series as is, but add a 4th game, and don’t count it.

At least don’t count it in the conference. That’s what Ole Miss and Mississippi State do and what Auburn and Alabama will do with the MAX CCC.

Ole Miss and MSU play in the “Governor’s Cup” formerly  the “Mayor’s Cup”. They keep the three game series at one school and add a fourth game in Jackson (now Pearl) and play it in a Minor league ball park (hey, that sounds familiar). AU/UA are doing pretty much the same thing (even playing in an Minor League Park).

Will it work? I hope so. Tickets have been selling fast and it should be a fun atmosphere. Here’s to Tuesday and a Tiger win.

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