By Shana White
Rivalries, outside of athletes being paid money for playing, are one of the biggest things that separate professional and collegiate sports. Rivalry games are always significant, vibrant, and an unmistakable key to excitement across the landscape of college sports.
This week has been dubbed rivalry week on ESPN, headlined by the one most heated and hotly contested rivalries in college basketball Duke vs UNC. The Duke vs UNC game in men's basketball is always an exciting and intriguing contest, which gave me the chance to reflect on some of the other top rivalries in college sports.
Louisville vs Kentucky: The Battle of the Blue Grass has been a long standing rivalry since the early 1900's. These two traditionally very strong basketball programs have both always produced top talent and usually are nationally ranked teams each year these two teams meet. More fuel was added to the fire of this already heated rivalry, when Rick Pitino crossed the line taking over the helm at Louisville after eight years as the Kentucky head coach.
Georgetown vs Syracuse: Arguably the Big East's longest competitive rivalry, Georgetown and Syracuse as individual programs have truly shaped the landscape of college men's basketball. During the 80's, during this rivalry's peak, both teams had future NBA players a part of their teams as well as were participants in the national championship games. Although the competitive nature of the rivalry took a little dip in the late 90's, the successful coaches and players involved with both of these programs always have kept this rivalry relevant and it has been revived recently with both teams being very competitive nationally.
UCONN vs Tennessee: This rivalry helped bring women's college basketball extensive media coverage and national attention. This game pitted the two most successful coaches (Pat Summitt and Geno Auriema) and programs (together they have won a combined 15 National Championships) in the history of women's basketball. The game began in 1995 and broke barriers by being one of the few nationally televised regular season women's basketball games. Although the regular season rivalry game ended in 2007, these two programs still are considered bitter rivalries in the women's basketball community.
And on the college football side of things, there is an equal share of heated rivalries that capture the attention of fans across the county.
Army vs Navy: A game dating back to 1890, the Army-Navy game embodies the true spirit of patriotism and love of the game. Traditionally, very late in the season, this game is always full of passion and determination between two teams who usually are not competition for national championships, but for the all important inter-service bragging rights that last a lifetime.
UGA vs Florida: The World's Largest Cocktail Party"¦.oops I mean the Georgia vs Florida Football Classic is one of the most anticipated college football games in the South year in and year out. As one of the few remaining neutral site contest, this game pairs two traditionally strong SEC East teams and has produced many dramatic, memorable finishes. The disdain both teams have for each other is felt year round and that dislike has even trickled down to the coaches recently, who have encouraged celebrations by their players and fan in contests during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Oklahoma vs Texas: The Red River Shootout or Red River Rivalry is another neutral site game yearly played in Dallas (now more recently in Arlington) during the Texas State Fair. This rivalry is bitter and emotional not only because of the proximity of the both schools but also because many of the players were heavily recruited by both schools. Usually a very entertaining, high scoring game, Oklahoma vs Texas is one of the best college football games every season.
Shana White is a blog contributor for Gold Star Games http://www.goldstargames.com/