With all the talk of conference reconfiguration, of additions and subtractions in the Big East membership, one school has been almost silent.
As one person familiar with the situation at UConn described it, “It’s like UConn is playing a game of musical chairs and the music keeps stopping and they don’t have a seat.”
Make no mistake, UConn officials and fans are worried. With good reason. As the ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten have made expansion plans the past few years, the Huskies have waited. And waited. And waited.
The call never came when the Big Ten went into the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and picked off Rutgers and Maryland.
The call never came when the Atlantic Coast Conference went north and picked off Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
The call never came when the ACC again went hunting and chose Louisville.
Forget the ten national championships won in men’s and women’s basketball by the Huskies. Forget the BCS bid the school earned three years ago. Forget the overall success of the athletic programs with improved facilities.
UConn remains uninvited. In a world of college athletics in which conference expansion is rapidly moving to a four or five configuration of 16-team super conferences, the Huskies remain out of the main loop as a member of a Big East conference which has been under siege for almost a decade.
Now, the 7 non FBS Catholic schools in the Big East are considering breaking off on their own, which again leaves UConn wondering what is next and where do we go from here.
The evolution of UConn athletics in the past 25 years has been steady as the school has gone from the somewhat rural New England school with big ambitions simply known as Connecticut, to the school which became a national player with a swagger in football and basketball l and was proudly known as UConn. Now they are back to being Connecticut, which has some people worried, others irritated and still others confused.
UConn’s best strategy right now would seem to be a circle the wagons mentality . What the Big East must do is market what it has left and what it is getting as almost two separate entities.
Divide into a pair of 6 7 or 8 team divisions in football, play an aggressive non-conference schedule and then hope that a team emerges from the conference championship game with a higher ranking than any of the other four conferences contending for a major bowl slot in the new playoff/BCS arrangement.
In basketball, the Big East must put together a basketball/football division 16 team conference, pairing all of the Catholic schools and UConn together in one division and the remaining schools in the other division. Each school would play every other team in its division twice.
By doing this, the Catholic schools would maintain their sense of unity against familiar rivals, while also getting the benefit of whatever football money is earned. By being part of this in basketball and being part of a league in football which can earn a major bowl slot, UConn could survive, if not thrive.
At least until someone calls.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.