Nov. 25, 2002
This Saturday at the Leavey Center, Santa Clara and San Jose State tangle in the newly created "Rivalry Series" that hopefully will catch on to stir up interest in local college sports. While statistically, the "rivalry" is pretty one-sided, the idea is a good one for those who long for the passion of the good old days.
Of course, I couldn't possibly root for a Spartans' win on Saturday. However, having SJSU level the playing field could only be a good thing to ignite the Rivalry Series. One would be hard pressed to consider Santa Clara and San Jose State rivals when SCU wins practically every contest every year.
The great Bud Ogden has many great stories of when the Broncos and Spartans would pack the San Jose Civic in the 60's with the tension equal to a showdown with USF and St. Mary's. During the 27-2 season that ended with a loss to UCLA in the West Regional final, the other loss was to....San Jose State in overtime. Back in the day, crowds would flock creating an electric atmosphere.
It's a different time now in Bay Area college sports. Stanford drew less than 30,000 for its final home football game and San Jose State is struggling to keep it's DI status because of football attendance concerns. In order to generate legitimate interest, teams have to win.
"I think it's logical and natural", says men's basketball coach Dick Davey. "Bay area sports at the college level aren't attended as much as we would like them to be and surely, we could use that type of injection of enthusiasm and attendance."
"There was a time years ago when students would sleep over the night before the season would start for season tickets. We need to encourage people to come back and watch college basketball. College basketball is fun and the prices are reasonable."
SCU Basketball Coach Dick Davey
Although Santa Clara aspires to greater national profile, taking care of business in its own backyard by, in essence, re-creating a rivalry that's only one in proximity. The message board posts promoting class envy ("Your dad works for my dad.")can only be a small part of an intense rivalry; there must be rear ends in the seats.
We live in an area where fans will come out for a winning program and that's where the long-term success of the Rivalry Series lies. Davey's team is on the right track and the Spartans must "bring it" for this concept to take off.
"Developing a fan base is big and winning is the cure for that," adds Davey. "There was a time years ago when students would sleep over the night before the season would start for season tickets. We need to encourage people to come back and watch college basketball. College basketball is fun and the prices are reasonable."
Because SJSU has been down in recent years, the basketball game seems to mean a little more to them to than the Broncos. Phil Johnson has brought some big-time talent to the South Bay and success can bring some fire to the rivalry and hopefully, eliminate the apathy at the Event Center.
"It's a great idea for fans and alumni but, personally, I don't care who we're playing," said Davey. "I want to win every game. It would be unfair to put too much emphasis on the single game Saturday more than any other. Because they are in our league, St. Mary's and USF are games that may carry more weight to a certain extent, but I want to win them all."
The message for both schools: Win and the "Rivalry Series" will take care of itself.