The history of Xavier vs. Cincinnati goes back 80 games, but it is the game that took place two years ago that could put the rivalry in jeopardy going forward. In that game on Xavier’s campus, the infamous brawl broke out in the final seconds of the second half. Pushing, shoving, and sucker punches resulted in a shortened game and a Xavier victory.
Thankfully the rivalry wasn’t abolished upon that ugly incident, but it was instead moved to a neutral location in downtown Cincinnati. However, the agreement between the two schools separated by less than 3 miles to play at the neutral site was only agreed to for two years.
This will be the second year of that agreement and there are currently no plans for a meeting next year.
Whit Babcock, Cincinnati’s athletic director, said in an interview recently that the schools want to maintain the annual game.
“Long-term, what we’ve talked about is certainly continuing to play the game,” Babcock stated. “Neither one of us has a desire to end that series.
“The big question is where the heck are you going to play, and that we haven’t ironed out. We’ve left it at, `Hey, we want to see how this second year goes down there.”
What I’m hearing from Babcock is, if the game is played without incident this season on December 14th, then the two parties will seriously consider returning the annual game to the college campuses. But if there is some sort of incident (which seems unlikely, but not impossible), then they will likely keep it at a neutral location or maybe even eliminate the game for the time being.
There’s nothing like playing a big time rivalry game on the actual campus of one of the team’s involved. No matter the talent level of each team, the energy in the building brings the game to an unpredictable level. What happened two years ago was an unfortunate incident and hopefully and isolated incident. Playing on a neutral court is better than nothing, but it doesn’t compare to the environment in the Cintas Center. Let’s hope this game is put back to where it should be played.