On Saturday, Cincinnati beat UConn for the 13th time in 16 all-time meetings. The question now becomes - will these two schools ever meet again in football?
UConn is leaving the AAC after this season and good riddance. UConn is terrible and they reflect poorly on the conference. Over the last three seasons they have gone 3-9, 3-9, 1-11 and this year they are 2-8. They have shown zero signs of progression (only regression) and serve no purpose other than help teams “get right” in a glorified scrimmage. Last year’s 49-7 win on the road and yesterday’s 48-3 win at Nippert Stadium are proof that UConn is nothing more than an FCS team dressed like they want to belong at the big kids table.
UConn is simply dead weight and their departure will be addition by subtraction. It means almost every statistic and measurement will increase and the conference will look that much more appealing.
Their departure also means Cincinnati can face real competition. The conference has yet to confirm what the plan is to replace UConn, but it would seem that eliminating the divisions and playing 8 games is the best plan. That means more frequent matchups against teams like Memphis, SMU, Houston, Navy. Good! Those teams are all good. Those teams hold appeal and playing games in Texas and Memphis (because of it’s proximity), help with recruiting. And I don’t want to avoid the good teams. I’d much rather play those teams and possibly suffer a loss every now and than as opposed to continue blowing out UConn. Nothing is gained from playing the Huskies. Whereas nothing is lost losing to those aforementioned teams (at least based on their 2019 performances).
Beginning in 2020, the UConn football team will be Independent. Not like Notre Dame and BYU, but like UMass, New Mexico State, and Liberty. UConn football has been in a free-fall for years, but at least you could try to recruit local kids under the premise of playing for conference championships and major bowl games (don’t laugh, UConn did win the Big East and play in the Fiesta Bowl in 2010, so it’s not impossible).
But now what?
What incentive is there for high school players to come to UConn now that there is no conference championship at stake? Huskies will have to create their own relationships with bowl games and may only get a spot if a conference cannot fill all of their allotments. “Come to UConn – if we win 6 games, we’ll celebrate by playing in an unknown random bowl game, based on which conference can’t fill their spots.” Or how about - “Come to UConn - if we win 6 games, we will play in a a bowl game in Boise or New Mexico?” That sounds like the saddest recruiting pitch of all time.
The strength of schedule will take a dip. In 2020, UConn will face Virginia, Illinois, Ole Miss on the road and host Indiana. Those are four solid opponents, no doubt. They will likely get several power 5 opponents a year. The problem is the depth of their schedule, and the home portion of the schedule.
Good luck getting anyone legit to ever come to East Hartford. Say what you will about the AAC teams, but no one as good as UCF (from the last few years) will ever come play at UConn. There’s a future series scheduled with Boston College, and for obvious reasons that intrigues UConn fans more than SMU, even though SMU is a far superior team. Duke, NC State, Maryland are all among the teams scheduled to come to UConn. If that’s the best they can do (and it is), getting mid-tier Power 5 teams, is it even worth it?
Right now UConn’s home games for 2020 are Indiana, Liberty, UMass, Maine, and Army. That sounds great. Huskies may sell between 5 and 12 season tickets next year to see that scary slate of teams. They only have 6 games scheduled so far for 2021 (I assume they will fill another 6) and their two home games are Holy Cross and Purdue. Fans should be lining up for future season tickets.
Another issue for UConn is that there is no television market. Whatever television deal they get (something local, like SNY or MSG) wouldn’t gross one quarter of the revenue that the AAC TV deal generates. And if they play half (or more) of their games on the road, what’s even the point?
UConn is simply better off simply folding the football program and putting all of their resources into basketball, both men and women. It’s what’s best for the school. UConn basketball belongs in the Big East and, as a college sports fan, good for them for going “home”, where they do truly belong. But football? It should just go away because it’s a waste of everyone’s time, money, and energy.