Saturday, April 12, 2014

ESPN Films 30 for 30 Vol II: Requiem for the Big East

I watched Requiem for the Big East. This is the seventeenth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Vol II. An episode guide for Vol II is here.

Requiem for the Big East looks at the birth, growth and then decline of the Big East Basketball conference. Established in 1979 as a northeastern conference by Dave Gavitt. The Big East focused on schools in major television markets. By coincidence, it was established the same year that ESPN was created. Big East games were one of the early staples of ESPN.

The Big East quickly became one of the dominant basketball conferences in the country. In 1985, three of the Big East teams [St. John's with Chris Mullin, Villanova with Ed Pickeney and Georgetown with Patrick Ewing] made it to the NCAA Final Four. The Pickeney led Wildcasts upset the Ewing lead Hoyas in the finals.

The Big East was successful in recruiting local players and keeping them in the northeast. In addition to the ESPN exposure, one of the draws was that the conference's season ending tournament was held in Madison Square Garden. The conference was also blessed with a number of larger than life coaches, including Jim Boeheim, Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson.

Over the last few years, the Big East has unraveled. Pressure to chase football money has caused several teams to jump to other conferences. The conference is being rebuilt around seven Catholic colleges that don't play football.

I was pleasantly surprised by this documentary. I started watching it with few expectations and was quickly enthralled. It is a nicely told story.

Requiem for the Big East is also available on iTunes.

A trailer for the film is here.

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