You may have heard things haven’t been going too well in Detroit lately. The city that has been trashed by countless writers including RTC’s very own rtmsf. While the Wolverine basketball team has turned it around this year including a big win at Crisler Arena, the Motor City has been hit by hard times. Their NFL team set a new benchmark for futility, their college football team lost to Toledo and that was only a harbinger of things to come, their MLB team finished last in its division, and their NBA team is no longer a contender. And then there is the impending economic depression that will hit Detroit if the Big 3 collapse, which they will even if the government continues to recklessly throw money at them as long as they continue with their flawed business model.
There is some good news for the residents of Detroit. [Ice hockey is not a sport so don’t even bother telling us about the Red Wings.] In a brilliant PR move, the University of Detroit has decided to make tickets for their New Year’s Day game against Youngstown State free. If you’re in the Detroit area on New Year’s Day, we want to tell you how sorry we are recommend you check out the “Free for All” at Calihan Hall (1:05 PM tip). In addition to the free tickets, spectators also get free non-alcoholic Bloody Marys and complimentary aspirin or ibuprofen for the hangover from some more potent drinks the night before. To be honest, this isn’t the most attractive match-up on paper (3-8 Youngstown State at 4-7 University of Detroit), but we believe that it is important to reiterate that it is FREE. According to our rudimentary math skills, it’s pretty hard to beat that value proposition (at least in ratio form).
While the University of Detroit is probably most well-known as the only successful stint of Dick Vitale’s coaching career (78-30 with a 21-game win streak that ESPN uses to justify his role as the most well-known promoter of our beloved sport), the Titans have been perennial contenders for the Horizon League title and had 4 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1997-98 and 2000-01. The Titans program also produced NBA stars Dave DeBusschere and Spencer Haywood.
While I hope that the Detroit basketball program reaps some rewards from this PR move, I am more intrigued by the idea of a grassroots campaign to get people into college basketball at a level that is more pure than what ESPN and CBS feed down our throats from Midnight Madness until One Shining Moment. If more colleges try this model, they can start to pull in families and get a younger generation of fans who actually root for their local team rather than just what they see on SportsCenter or what some rapper is wearing on BET. If they do that, college basketball can start to fight its way back into the national conscience, which is a place we all know it belongs.