JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Creighton. Marquette. Big East. Downtown. New Year's Eve.
Tuesday night is big. How big?
Here at Hyperbole Headquarters, we never met a game we couldn't hype. OK, maybe a few bowl games. Anyway, I sent out an email to some veteran Creightonians and asked them: Where would you rank this one among CU hoop games? Top five? Biggest ever? Biggest in last 30 years? You tell me.
The responses for big games ranged from the Larry Bird game at the Civic Auditorium, Kentucky in the NIT a few years ago, Wichita State in Omaha last year, the NCAA games against North Carolina and Duke, Kansas in the NCAA tourney in 1974, when Bob Lanier and St. Bonnie came to Omaha in the 1960s, and on and on.
The veteran Jays said tonight belonged somewhere near the top, but it's hard to rank.
I'm going to say this is a top-five game all-time. But that's in this moment. Will the Jays' game with Georgetown later this season be bigger? Will playing for the Big East title in Madison Square Garden top that? Maybe, but because this is the starting line, it seems like it will always be big.
Maybe it's fair to say a whole new era of Creighton basketball starts tonight, that this is the first day of the rest of their lives.
My favorite response came from the leader of the band, Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen, who wrote in a text:
“Define biggest. NCAA tournament games are bigger to me. Games that got us into the NCAA tournament are bigger to me. Games that won us conference championships or conference tourney championships are bigger to me.
“We may look back at the Marquette game and call it a big game based upon above criteria. However, 'historic' would be a better description for me. It's definitely one of the more historic games: first game in Big East, a conference affiliation most of our fans have wanted for years, against Marquette, a team most of our fans have wanted us to play on a regular basis, on New Year's Eve, on national TV. Historic for certain; huge remains to be seen.”
Put it this way: It's a “buy a program” game.
» A note on my Joe Ganz column, which ran Monday: The conversation about Ganz's concussion was not meant to take the issue lightly. I take concussions very seriously. So does Ganz. The tone of the interview was a player reminiscing about his past. It was meant to look back at his 2009 Gator Bowl experiences, not have Ganz talk about the dangers of football.
I will say this: That topic is a lot more prevalent now than it was five years ago. That's a good thing.
But there was a part of that interview that was very telling. Maybe something doctors and those studying the impact on the brain can pay attention to.
When Ganz left the game after being hit, he knew he was going to be put through a “play test” by doctors, so he had a teammate prep him so he could pass the test. It's amazing that Ganz had the awareness to do that after being dinged. It also says that, no matter what coaches and doctors want to do, players will circumvent tests to get back out there.
» Here's some leftover Ganz thoughts on NU's quarterbacks.
On Taylor Martinez: “I'm proud of him, from where he came from to where he is now as a quarterback. It's too bad what happened to him this year. I thought he was going to have a really good year. He was ready.”
On the quarterback competition this spring: “It's going to be a battle. Tommy (Armstrong) is not going to lay down and say, here you go. It's going to be a tight competition between him and Johnny (Stanton). Johnny is a more polished in the passing game than Tommy, but Tommy is more elusive as a runner. I'd hate to compare Johnny to Tim Tebow, but he's a little bigger (runner).”
» I wonder if anyone in the Marquette traveling party will wander down to the Civic Auditorium today.
It's been awhile since the Eagles last played in Omaha — Dec. 19, 1988, according to my research — but Al McGuire's team made two stops here during its historic run to the 1977 national championship.
In fact, Omaha fans got two looks at a team warming up for that title run. On March 5, 1977, Marquette beat the Jays 72-60, with Butch Lee leading the way with 18 points. Just one week later, on March 12, Marquette played in the NCAA regional at the Civic Auditorium and beat Cincinnati 66-51, with Butch Ellis scoring 17.
Just two weeks later, on March 28, Marquette beat North Carolina in Atlanta to cut down the NCAA nets.
» Earlier this season, while watching Texas play Iowa State on TV, Big Ten Network analyst Glen Mason sent out a tweet that said, “What happened to Texas football?”
» I'm sure Kansas State fans had the same reaction when they saw Michigan on Saturday night. This is Michigan?
» Not that the Wildcats will give back the win. Twenty years from now, nobody will remember that K-State beat a Wolverine team that can't block, cover or tackle.
» You can be sure the narrative around Brady Hoke at Big Ten media days next July will be a lot different. Nobody will be asking him to give a coaching clinic.
» Since we seem to rate conferences these days, and since we seem to rate them on how they do in bowls, I'm going to say the Rose, Orange and Capitol One bowls will be fairly huge for the Big Ten's rep. Oh sure, the Gator, too. Any win over the SEC is a life-changing experience. Just ask the SEC.
» I wonder if Will Compton kept a diary on his year with the Washington Redskins. He might sell a few books if he did.
» UNO hockey gets back on the ice this weekend but coach Dean Blais will have to wait. I feel bad for the coach. He may have technically broken NCAA rules, but for what he did, and how he fessed up, that's the guy you want as your coach.
» Nebraska radio voice Greg Sharpe and I drove down to St. Augustine, Fla., on Sunday and visited the World Golf Hall of Fame. It was spectacular. Unbelievable memorabilia from each member of the Hall. One of the Golf Hall employees told us that they aren't going to induct a class this year; because some folks raised a stink about Colin Montgomerie and Fred Couples getting in, they're going to rework the criteria to get in. That's too bad on two fronts. One, Monty and Couples are both hall of famers. Two, that might set back the process to get Johnny Goodman on a veterans ballot. Stay tuned.
» Tonight will be tough sledding in Iowa City for Tim Miles' bunch. You heard it here last: Iowa is going to make a run at the Big Ten title. Nebraska, meanwhile, can do some damage in the lower part of the league, especially at home. Tai Webster has to be tough now. It looks like the transition to college is wearing on him at times. Mike Gesell will be a handful.
» That was the most embarrassing win I've ever been a part of and, of course, I was a huge part of San Diego's win over the University of Missouri, I mean, Kansas City's JV. I changed shirts twice.
» One more and I'm outta here: Before the season I picked Denver to meet, and beat, New Orleans in the Super Bowl. I reserve the right to change my mind, especially if the Saints don't look as tough.
I think Kansas City beats Indy but loses in the second round, and New England loses to Peyton Manning in a snowy AFC Championship game. In the “other” conference, I'm feeling a gold rush. Give me San Francisco to win at Green Bay and eventually at Seattle to make the Super Bowl. Yes, winning in Seattle is like Indiana Jones leaving the first scene of a movie. But Jim Harbaugh and the Niners can do it.
So Manning over Harbaugh in New York. For entertainment, and comedy, purposes only.