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Father's tales prove true in ESPN documentary

It's good to know our school was once part of something truly special.

The ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary, "A Requiem for the Big East" aired on Sunday night and if I learned one lesson from the special, it's that the devil is oblong and made of pigskin.

What I grew to find is that most of the stories my father told me growing up were true. He used to coach high school basketball in a New York City area that got a lot of attention in the documentary. While he was coaching high school hoops, my dad used to work at Rollie Massamino's camp in Villanova.

I used to hear stories about how Massamino was hysterically crazy and really big on family, having the entire team over for dinner while his wife cooked pasta for the entire neighborhood.

I now see in a documentary, Massimino attempting to pull his hair out in a Rolaids commercial and Ed Stuckley talking about how great of a cook "Mrs. Mass" was.

I used to hear stories about how Jim Boehiem would whine and complain more than any other coach in the league and how Massamino and John Thompson hated his guts. I now see an old interview where a "whiny-faced" (as Mike Gorman put it) Boeheim throws a chair across a press conference because he was upset about a call in an old game against Georgetown.

I used to hear stories about how the Saturday Big East game would drum up big business when he was behind the bar working in Brooklyn. I now see footage of packed bars and families huddled around a television watching Big East basketball.

It's not the first time and it certainly won't be the last, but it's scary when I find out how right my father was about everything.

If my father's stories and the documentary showed me one thing, it's that I really missed something special.

The birth and inception of the Big East conference was something that was truly amazing to watch unfold.

The excitement that our school was a part of the original Big East, (the Patrick Ewing, Pearl Washington Big East of the 80's and 90's) was displayed throughout the documentary as something that has been gone for a very long time.

I should maybe feel slighted as a college basketball fan, as well as a member of the Seton Hall community, to have missed this golden era of Big East basketball.

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The coaches, executives and fans of the original Big East were all heart-broken when the conference collapsed in its own end zone. The footage of the Garden for the 1985 Big East tournament showed excitement comparable to Beatlemania and the Super Bowl. While last year's final Syracuse-Georgetown game was shown as a depressing scene filled with disinterested and uneducated fans.

This isn't the Big East I know. One thing the documentary chose to ignore is the new conference's bright future.

The excitement didn't leave the Big East. If you think it did, ask one of our own, Sterling Gibbs. If you think it did, tell that to Ed Cooley and Bryce Cotton when they were dead to rights against the best player in the country.

I'm not upset that Syracuse left. I'm upset that I'm leaving.

Gerard Gilberto is a senior journalism major from Staten Island, N.Y. He can be reached at


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