The seed was planted in 2009 when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, then the Governor-elect, appeared on ESPN 950 in Richmond, and host Al Coleman told him that there was interest in reviving a college basketball event that would bring the commonwealth's top teams to town.
On Wednesday, McDonnell announced that it had gotten done with the creation of the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic. In doubleheaders next season, George Mason will play Richmond and Virginia will go up against Old Dominion in a couple of intriguing matchups. The following year, Virginia Tech faces VCU, and Hampton takes on James Madison.
"Unfortunately, given scheduling constraints and conference affiliations, we too rarely get to witness our in-state teams competing against each other," McDonnell said in a statement. "The 'Classic' will change that. In December 2012 and 2013 the Richmond Coliseum will be the site of what are certain to be exciting games which will allow Virginians to celebrate our great colleges and universities while supporting a great cause, the Commonwealth's Food Banks. I hope the Classic will become a long-lasting Virginia athletic tradition. And, as a father who has had children attend UVa, Virginia Tech, ODU, JMU and VCU, I'm definitely staying neutral in this one!"
Thanks to government assistance, we'll get to see some attractive non-conference games. The announcement left VCU coach Shaka Smart among those excited to get a chance to take on Virginia Tech at a time when his program is on the rise.
"We're very appreciative of the opportunity to compete in the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic," Smart said in a statement. "It will be a terrific showcase of the high-level basketball programs that call Virginia home."
But how does Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg feel about having to play in Richmond against VCU? From the Associated Press:
"We are really excited to come to Richmond to play a neutral court game against VCU," Greenberg quipped, drawing laughs from the crowd because VCU is located in the city.