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Carrier Classic isn't going away; battleship game to return in 2013

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Two got canceled and another had a sun glare problem, but that won't rock the boat on battleship games. (Getty Images)

There's apparently no raining on this college basketball parade.

All systems are a go for 2013 when it comes to the continuation of college hoops on aircraft carriers.

Though we've made the case on the blog that all battleship basketball battles should cease to be, that's not the plan from those making plans to again host these gargantuan hoop exhibits.

The AP reports the Carrier Classic (which was the first of these, the one that hosted the Michigan State-North Carolina game on 11-11-11) will again, next season, play host to an outdoor college basketball game. The 2013 game will be played on the USS Yorktown, which was docked off South Carolina's coast Friday night and was the site of the nongame between Ohio State and Marquette.

This is what the players were up against and why the game had to be canceled.

Yeah. Yikes. It's physically impossible to play actual basketball on an oil slick.

The company that plans this whole she-bang for the Carrier Classic, Morale Entertainment, isn't backing away from the concept despite widespread complaints, laments and laughs aimed college basketball's plans for three games on ships Friday and Sunday. (Syracuse and San Diego State did play 40 minutes but had to deal with serious glare amid their afternoon game off the coast of San Diego.)

The news of the Carrier Classic's continuance isn't a total surprise. Over the weekend, Ohio State president Gene Smith told USA Today he'd still like to see his program get a shot to shoot some shots on a ship, and in that conversation alluded to the chance these games would still go on.

"We'd work with the operators to see if we could do it in a way to ensure that we could avoid what we encountered this year," Smith said, suggesting that it might be better to try to play the games earlier in the day.

...

Smith pointed out that the Ohio State-Marquette game -- scheduled to be played off the coast of South Carolina -- and Florida-Georgetown -- which was played off the coast of Jacksonville and made it through a half of basketball before cancellation because of moisture on the court -- were the first foray into East Coast aircraft carrier games.

"The weather differential is significantly different than San Diego, where (the Carrier Classic) was last year, so I think it was a different experience for the operators and us," Smith said. "None of us anticipated we'd have an inclement weather situation."

That lack of preparation/expectation with the weather was the huge problem. You throw these massive ships on the East Coast in November and the climate isn't definitely conducive to outdoor play. I mean, we had two college basketball games nixed because of dew point. DEW POINT!

Smith added that the military influence and backdrop of the game was/is the biggest and best reason to continue to hold these events. (There is a counterargument to simply do what Michigan State and UConn did Friday, play in an airplane hangar at a military base, but that doesn't present nearly the visual display on pretty HD television.)

Nevertheless, at least one outdoor game will be back next year. So, is that a good thing? As I've said all along, I think getting just one battleship game each season is the perfect amount if we have to have these, like how the NHL has the Winter Classic at just one outdoor site per season. (Though that's, um, not happening this year.)

But contingency plans have to be in place to resolve every possible problem. I remember the 2011 game had the backup plan of playing the game IN the actual ship, underneath the flight deck. That apparently wasn't prepped this year. You'd think that's always got to be the last-case scenario.

And if you think programs were scared off by Friday's cancellations, think again. According to Bob Baptist, one of the best Ohio State beat writers out there, at least 10 schools right now, already, want to get in on the 2013 Carrier Classic, because it's obviously a tremendous public relations opportunity for every program.

If there's one thing we know for certain about college sports, it's this: If money and exposure are involved, schools are not going to pass on an opportunity. In that way, it makes the Carrier Classic just like any other game on the schedule.

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