UConn and Maryland are poised to square off in a first-round NCAA Tournament game with some cache later this week. There's just a bit more pizzaz in this matchup of power programs from the 7-10 spot than say, Clemson-Rutgers brings to the table. Even more so when one remembers the shared history of these programs in March. As a proud Terp himself, Scott Van Pelt very fondly recalls the classic Elite Eight battle these two fought in great detail. From Lonny Baxter's 29 points to Juan Dixon's 27 to Steve Blake's game-sealing triple to a heroic performance by Caron Butler in a losing effort.
Van Pelt showed the SportsCenter highlight from 2002 on his show last night and it should go without saying that it was spectacular. Steve Levy and Stuart Scott do a brilliant, self-effacing cold opening, nail a tease, then launch into the action. There's immediate and unique energy radiating from Scott as he works through his shot sheet, doing the back-and-forth game justice and perfectly translating the action into his cutting-edge vernacular.
I happened to catch this live and halfway through the segment, a rather obvious but no less essential idea wandered into my brain. I would be perfectly happy watching archival SportsCenter episodes on-demand for the rest of my life. And I am certainly not the only one. So why wouldn't ESPN take all of this content they've already created and put it up on ESPN+ in some sort of curated fashion?
In terms of importance, the streaming service is probably neck-and-neck with live game rights. There's a tremendous push underway to create new programs that can gain a foothold on ESPN+. There's also a tremendous push to increase inventory. Taking the most influential — and to this day arguably the best — thing the channel has ever done and reimagining it in some way seems like a slam dunk. There are hundreds of thousands of hours of past broadcasts, and an equal amount of editorial permutations with which to present it.
Sports fans love nostalgia. Hell, everyone loves nostalgia. Being able to watch episodes after any number of victories for the home team or memorable events would be incredible. So too would giving in to the vibe and dropping into whatever world was being revisited at that particular time. As a nation, our Remembering Some Guys quotient would skyrocket. And ESPN would profit. A win-win.
Barring some sort of logistical problem that would prevent this from happening, it's difficult to understand what the downside would be for such a project. I don't even want any credit if someone over there reads this. Its very existence would be reward enough.