UConn FB--RIP Sort of.

UConn's decision to go to Big East, dooms the Huskies as a major FB participant

Oh, there will be signs of life in the next few days and months. There will be chatter about the upside of a sport which hasn't really seen anything close to that in nine years.

If there is one major casualty in UConn's move back into the Big East for all of its sports but hockey, it is that the concept of UConn FB as a big time football participant is over.

Not that UConn didn't try to climb to the next level. They built a new stadium, they upgraded facilities a few times. But in these days of BCS/College Football there were the 5 major conferences--Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern Conference, Pac-12 conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Huskies made a run at the ACC on numerous times, they flirted with the Big Ten a few times and they made a serious run at the Big 12.

None of it worked. The Huskies were a fine program...but...

The alternative was a hybrid conference coming from the old Big East football conference, called the American Athletic Conference.

The Huskies had new play pals such as UCF and Tulane and Houston and East Carolina. Temple was their closest geographical opponent. That might have been alright in football, but in basketball, with a fan base weaned on success against teams such as Providence, Villanova, St. John's, Georgetown and Seton Hall, it didn't work.

The Huskies could have slid back into the familiar cocoon of the Big East years ago, but football--the prime cash cow in collegiate sports--had no home, so the AAC was the best alternative.

By the end of the week, that will officially be over, although the break up will not be complete for more than a year, perhaps longer.

I remember sitting with then UConn athletic director Lew Perkins almost 20 years ago and he was talking about a plan to elevate UConn football from the (then) 1-AA level to 1A and about an eager young coach named Randy Edsall he was considering hiring.

Edsall did come to UConn and less than a decade later UConn was playing in a major BCS level bowl game like the Fiesta Bowl.

Edsall left after that game for perceived better things at Maryland. UConn has never climbed that high since, although Edsall came back for a second time to rebuild again.

But this time the Huskies have no security blanket of a conference with a BCS bowl tie in, they are outsiders.

More than a few people familiar with the Huskie program say that the best solution is to cut and run--drop football completely and concentrate on the other sports, with men's and women's basketball the prime money makers.

But there is a faction at UConn, including athletic director Dave Benedict, who say that can't and won't happen. Too much time and money invested in football to drop it.

There is also a plan being discussed that UConn and UMass become part of the Eastern Division of Conference USA, which would then split apart and become its league (9 teams) and the West would also be a 9 team conference by going after schools such as BYU and New Mexico State in football only.

But anything other than a move to the MAC requires too many details to get done quickly. Adding UConn and UMass as FB only members could be announced within a few weeks.

Benedict is fighting for his professional life here as well. When he arrived in Storrs three years ago, UConn athletics in all sports but women's basketball was in a crisis mode.

No athletic director wants the dropping of a major sport such as football as part of their resume. In fact, it could be a a resume killer for Benedict who also wants to move to the next level.

With the return to the Big East, Benedict has a legacy he can point to with pride.

But the issue of football remains and there is really no answer that can make UConn a major player in the wide world of big time college football.

By committing to the Big East, UConn basically said no to the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12. Count on part of a new Big East-UConn contract that the Huskies will be faced with a staggering buyout clause to leave if a CFB power conference offers the Huskies a spot.

But that is almost a moot point. The ACC has no major plans for expansion any time soon, nor do the Big 12 or Big Ten and UConn is not on anyone's ""A'' list.

The die has been cast.

Big time football at UConn, RIP.



Mark Blaudschun
EditorMark Blaudschun
Mark Blaudschun
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