During its heyday in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Far West Classic, which was held between Christmas and New Year’s Day, was considered the premier holiday college basketball tournament in the country.
The FWC started in 1956 as a four-team event in Corvallis, expanded to eight teams in 1959, and moved to Portland’s Memorial Coliseum in 1960.
Over the years the guest list included national powerhouses — North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Princeton — and more obscure programs, such as the Dartmouth Big Green and the Billikens of St. Louis.
Some of the notable players who played in the Classic were Princeton’s Geoff Petrie and Oregon’s Jim Barnett, both of whom became original Trail Blazers; Oregon’s Stan Love, who is better known as the brother of Beach Boy Mike Love and the father of current NBA star Kevin Love; Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker, who was also a starting guard for Oregon State; and future NBA stars such as Michigan’s Cazzie Russell, North Carolina’s Charlie Scott, and Indiana’s George McGinnis.
In those days, there was no Internet, no ESPN and no smorgasbord of college basketball games on cable television. The only information available about teams and players from other parts of the country was what could be gleaned from the print media, particularly Sports Illustrated.