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Point/Counterpoint: Given a choice, would you place UConn in the Big Ten or ACC?

By Danny Maher and Tim Fontenault
On March 7, 2013

Tim: At this point, I'm not getting very optimistic about the possibility of UConn leaving the Conference With No Name. A move would require a domino falling in another conference, which does not seem imminent. Add in that UConn is about to take home $20-30 million as a result of the settlement with the Catholic - offsetting the abysmal television deal with ESPN - and it does not seem like we are going anywhere soon. But if UConn does end up leaving, hopefully it will be for a reunion with Syracuse as a member of the ACC.
Dan: It is a sad truth but it is time to admit that the Big East, as we know it, is dead. Despite boasting one of the most dominate athletic programs in the country over the last 25 years, UConn has been left unwanted on several occasions and has not received an invitation to join a better conference such as the Big Ten or the ACC. Although there are no signs that either conference will be making a call to Storrs anytime soon, I hope UConn would join the Big Ten because of the football superiority and overall stability compared to the ACC.
Tim: I grew up a UConn fan. As someone who spent their childhood at Gampel Pavilion and the Hartford Civic Center, as it was called back then, I do not like seeing football drive college sports, especially at a basketball school. I don't want to see basketball suffer, and I think therefore that the ACC is an ideal location.
Danny: There is no question UConn men's basketball put the university on the map, but there is also no question that football brings in significantly more money than basketball does. The Big Ten claims some of the most storied football programs in the country, including Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State. The ACC is comparatively weak in football and there is no promise that Florida State and Clemson won't bolt when/if the SEC looks to expand.
Tim: The Big Ten is stronger in football. That goes without saying. Football brings in the money, but I also worry about UConn's ability to attract fans to watch the team get pummeled by Ohio State, Michigan and company every year. The ACC as a league is weaker, but rivalry games against Syracuse, Boston College and Louisville, among others, would attract fans, and the games would be more competitive.
Danny: I do think Rentschler Field can easily attract 40,000 fans on a Saturday to come see the Huskies take on the Badgers, Spartans, Illini, etc. It is tough to see virtually all UConn's rivals find their new home in the ACC but our biggest football rival, Rutgers, is going to the Big Ten. It is a shame that a developing football rivalry is having its life cut short.
Tim: I hate seeing the Rutgers rivalry end, but Syracuse, Louisville, Boston College and Pittsburgh are all now in the ACC. Notre Dame is contractually obligated to play five games against ACC teams. There is opportunity for attractive games, and a better chance for UConn to succeed in the ACC. My biggest concern - money aside - is our other sports. Obviously, basketball would be fine either way, but look at soccer. Indiana may be the reigning champions, but top to bottom, the ACC is stronger and more suited for an elite program like UConn. And I'm sure Geno Auriemma would rather play Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Louisville than just Penn State and Maryland in conference play every year.
Danny: I agree that UConn soccer would be a better fit in the ACC, but considering the abundance of success from Auriemma's team over the last 20 years, I do not believe the UConn women's basketball team will have any trouble scheduling those teams as non-conference opponents. The ACC had no sympathy systematically plucking UConn's rivals away over the last 10 years, and I do not feel UConn should give the ACC any satisfaction after passing over the Huskies so many times. If UConn joined the Big Ten, it would be the perfect statement that this university will not get walked over.
Tim: UConn would absolutely be able to schedule those teams in non-conference. No one plays a stronger schedule than the Huskies, but the games would mean so much more in a conference setting. I do not want this school to be a pushover, but at the same time, I want all of our teams to play in a competitive environment. I think the only sport where the Big Ten is stronger is football, but I think in terms of playing competitively, the ACC suits UConn better. Travel would be easier for teams and fans alike. And as someone who cares about rivalries, as I have already said, I think Syracuse and Boston College are better draws - given our history - than, say, Ohio State and Penn State. I think that, overall, a more prosperous future is in the ACC.
Danny: I just do not think the ACC has shown UConn the amount of respect it has earned, simply passing over the Huskies time after time. Because of this, I do not want to join an unstable conference full of schools that stabbed the Big East and left. The Big Ten offers elite football and basketball. Rutgers might be the only current rivalry waiting for UConn in the Big Ten, but there is always room for new rivalries, especially in men's basketball against schools like Indiana and Michigan State.


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