MSU, UNC, Florida, Texas to play in multi-city 2018 'barnstorming' event

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Mark Hollis, the athletic director at Michigan State who's known for his unconventional marketing mind when it comes to sports, has conjured up another wild idea.

This is the guy responsible for helping create college basketball games on aircraft carriers. It's hard to top that, and he's going a different route here, but it's also an unprecedented one.

ESPN.com is reporting a four-team "barnstorming event" (alas, actual barns are not in the plans) that will involve Michigan State, Texas, Florida and North Carolina -- to take place in 2018. How's it going to work? It'll be an eight-day, three-city tour. New York City (Madison Square Garden), Chicago (United Center) and Los Angeles (Staples Center) will also host the event, with each city getting a different matchup.

So it will be UNC vs. Texas/MSU vs. Florida at one venue, Texas vs. MSU/Florida vs. UNC at another, and Texas vs. Florida/MSU vs. UNC at another.

It's scheduled to start Dec. 15, 2018, per the report. The teams will use the same airplane and everything. Fairly novel, this. Some may ask, "When will they do schoolwork?" but really, this is going to be scheduled after the teams complete end-of-semester exams.

Hollis told ESPN.com Wednesday that all four schools, their coaches and athletic directors have confirmed their participation.
"It's a very cool idea," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Wednesday. "At first I thought it was crazy, but it's during break so we don't miss any school. It's three big games in a row, and with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and other events [Champions Classic] we could have six or seven big games."
...
"So many of these kids know each other from AAU and everything else that we felt this would be a great way to travel," Hollis said. "I worked with [ADs] Steve Patterson at Texas, Jeremy Foley at Florida and Bubba Cunningham at North Carolina on this. They and the head coaches are all excited about the opportunity for the student-athletes."

The teams also will have tours of each city's attractions -- 9/11 memorial; Second City; Disneyland -- in addition to the hoops. This is a nice bonus recruiting tool, when you think about it.

It also indicates on some small level that all these coaches hope/figure to be coaching at their programs by the time 2018 rolls around. After all, they had to sign off on it. Four high-profile programs doing something unique to boost the sport is always something college hoops needs in November and December. Hard to argue against this as a worthwhile venture.

 
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