Column: It's time to leave: UConn needs to join ACC
It is a maritime tradition that if a ship is sinking, the captain of the vessel must go down with the ship. It was a disgrace if the captain was to jump ship, so in order to keep his honor, the captain would sacrifice his life in a final act of martyrdom.
Unfortunately for the University of Connecticut, the Big East is the Titanic.
The Big East is metaphorically taking on more water after the news that Rutgers is going to leave for the Big Ten. This is only a few months after Syracuse and Pittsburgh decided to leave for the ACC and West Virginia departed for the Big Ten as well. Talk about hitting an iceberg.
Now UConn has been forced to make a decision that could completely alter the future of our athletics programs. The ship is running out of lifeboats quickly, and UConn needs to decide if they want to go down with the ship like Captain Edward John Smith or get to safety on the ACC's raft.
I have spent my entire life around UConn. Growing up in Willington, Conn., my childhood home was only about 10 minutes from campus. I did not have to move very far for my education, but quite frankly, I would not want to be anywhere else.
I was raised an UConn fan. I have been to Gampel Pavilion countless times. I have an UConn autograph book filled with signatures and pictures with former players like Jake Voskuhl, Travis Knight, Khalid El-Amin, Edmund Saunders and Taliek Brown, to name a few. I have a framed poster from Gampel Pavilion's opening night hanging in my room. I still call the XL Center the Civic Center quite often. Heck, I even have a Rip Hamilton autograph on the back of a Meineke receipt.
Since UConn basketball was such an integral part of my family life, I was raised to bleed for the Big East. To me, that was the greatest conference in college sports. Since I was Big East born and bred, I was raised to despise the ACC.
Had I been a fan of Duke growing up, my mom probably would have stopped loving me. My Big East bias had me growing up hating Boston College and Virginia Tech for leaving for the ACC, but now it looks like we will probably be reunited again.
This potential leap to the ACC had me torn at first. I was a Big East faithful through and through. I believed that if UConn remained in the Big East and we had more universities join us we could be salvaged. I thought that the additions of Temple, Memphis, San Diego State and Boise State to join the Big East in a two division conference could be enough to carry us on until we garnered the attention of other universities.
How could I be so naive?
After getting over my biases, I have faced the facts that the inevitable is going to happen, and we will most likely be in the ACC in no time. Although it is not for certain, it looks like it will be between UConn and Louisville to fight for the final spot in their alleged expansion to 14 teams. Nothing is for certain and it is still all up in the air, but it will probably happen.
If anything, it needs to happen. If UConn wishes to maintain its athletic dominance and expand it in the coming years, moving to the ACC conference is the next logical and necessary step. With the Big East falling apart so rapidly, UConn will not get the same chance in the future to thrive as it would if they were in the ACC. Also, economic factors would weigh in heavily if we stayed in the Big East, compared to moving to the ACC, which could bring even more money to the school.
Just from a basketball perspective the move to the ACC would make for some of the most exciting conference matchups. Can you imagine playing both Duke and North Carolina two times a year each? How about seeing Coach K in Gampel Pavilion? Imagine if Jim Calhoun was still coaching too, what a matchup that would be - not that I would not be excited to see Kevin Ollie coach against him, but there is a lot of history between Calhoun and Krzyzewski. Not to mention that we would still get to play Syracuse and reunite an old rivalry with Boston College.
To the faithful Big East fans, we are going to miss the glory days of the Big East and what it once was. And at the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, UConn basketball will not feel the same in the ACC. However, times change and so does the landscape of college basketball. The university will decide what is best for UConn's athletic future, but ultimately, it looks like the ACC is the way to go.
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