They call our Wildcat friends up on the Main Line ‘Villanofun’ because there’s a perception that the campus is too studious and boring.
That’s irrelevant to college hoops. But Saturday night, when Penn men’s basketball showed up for a Big 5 game, the nickname held true. Along with the Quakers, a group of 50 from the Red and Blue Crew arrived, rollouts in hand, only to learn that their signs would not be allowed inside the Pavilion.
That’s no fun.
No other city in America has a local conference with the history or spirit that the Big 5 holds. It goes beyond the matchups on the hardcourt, where anything can happen, regardless of ranking or talent. The heart of the Big 5 has always been its fans.
The traditions have come and gone: double-headers are a rarity nowadays, streamers disappeared decades ago and the games are no longer held under one, blue roof. But the rollouts — bold quips painted on banners of paper — have survived.
The issue is that Villanova’s current ticket Terms and Conditions explicitly ban all signs from the Pavilion: “No Holder may bring any signs, flags or banners of any size onto the Premises, or display such in the Facility.”
To ban rollouts is a sin, and the powers that be at Villanova should make sure this doesn’t happen again. The rollouts are the last shreds of tradition in a 56-year-old rivalry that some say is slowly slipping into irrelevancy.
Atlantic 10 and Big East powers Temple and ’Nova have combined to win each of the last seven titles, while Penn, La Salle and St. Joe’s hope for a third-place finish at best.
This year, the Hawks decided they would no longer play all of their Big 5 games at the Palestra — the last team not named Penn to hold onto the tradition.
And to top it off, a reported mini-spat this fall between the Owls and Wildcats over Temple’s bid to join the Big East has renewed concerns about the future of the Big 5.
The Quakers haven’t won a Big 5 title in nine years, but that hasn’t stopped the team’s biggest fans from coming out year after year, smelling of spray paint, with fresh rollouts for each game.
So because Villanova’s rules kept the students from a friendly game of bannerball, here are two of the Red and Blue Crew’s rollouts, as prepared for Saturday night:
*“JayVaugn Pinkston, redshirting or orangejumpsuiting?”
“Penn: looking down on ’Nova since 1842.”*
CALDER SILCOX is a senior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is silcox@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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