|Mick Cronin, center, was tough on his team last season but maintained that he wanted the Xavier-UC rivalry to keep on. (AP)|
We've known for a few weeks that the Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry would, thankfully, not be put on hiatus. Just as a reminder: this is a good, rational reaction. For once, pragmatism overcame PR.
On Thursday afternoon, we learned more about what the next chapter for this rivalry, one of college basketball's best, has in store. School presidents, athletic directors and the head coaches -- Mick Cronin of Cincinnati and Chris Mack of Xavier -- held a press conference to give the two schools one more public, positive endorsement before the next game gets played in December (the 19th).
Since Xavier and Cincy did some tarnishing to themselves and the sport last December with the brouhaha that did no good for anyone, it's been the smart approach to take time in rescheduling the game and let the public see that the decisions weren't rash. Most affiliated with both programs wanted to keep the Crosstown Shootout going, but that wasn't something to be decided amid the scurry of a season. And cancelling it after one donnybrook wasn't called for.
So, after Thursday's presser, now we know: the Crosstown Shootout will no longer be referred to as such. The schools have earned a primary, marquee endorser, one of Cincinnati's most famous businesses in Skyline Chili. Now, the thing all locals will continue to call the Crosstown Shootout will be referred to on television and in official news media outlets and on the game-day programs as the Skyline Chili Crosstown Classic.
The game will be held at a neutral site, the U.S. Bank Arena, meaning Xavier and Cincinnati will rotate the fundamental duty of being the "home" team (Cincy this year, Xavier in 2013). Not wanting to chance either team facing unusually harsh environments for the forseeable future, keeping this puppy as close to 50/50 as possible was, again, a reasonable response.
The contract is for two years. The safe choice. If all are happy after the 2013-14 season, the contract will be renewed, likely to stay as a neutral site with an even ticket split.
In a joint statement on paper, because it would be weird if they actually said it simultaneously, Xavier president Michael Graham and Cincinnati president Gregory Williams said, “We wanted to find ways to remind us all, including student-athletes and fans, that our athletic competition is about our two universities coming together to celebrate our hometown of Cincinnati and the mutual respect we have for each other. We want to celebrate the values we share in common and use this event to positively impact the city we both call home beyond just game night."
Other details released include a change to the logo and a portion of the game's proceeds going to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located right there on the Cincinnati riverfront.
For fans of good rivalry games and seeing how some can overcome these matters while others can't, it's refreshing to say the least.